Everything to Do in NY This Spring!!

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Spring has officially been here for a few weeks, but it’s finally starting to feel like it! The weather is warming up and the days are getting longer, so it’s time to get out and start enjoying the new season. NYC is beautiful this time of year and the energy is so refreshing after what felt like a winter that would never end! Spring is a pretty short-lived season, so get out and make the most of it while you can! 

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Check out the Cherry Blossoms and all the Spring Blooms

Cherry blossoms are blooming everywhere right now! The ones in Central Park are full and fluffy, and the blooms at New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanical Garden are nearing peak bloom. Some people consider Sakura Matsuri the can’t miss cherry blossom moment of the season, but it’s insanely crowded. I prefer to visit on an off day when I can really take my time wandering the garden and enjoying the view, without the hundreds of people. 

NYBG is also home to stunning fields of daffodils and azaleas that are about halfway to peak bloom right now. Keep your eyes on their bloom tracker to best time your visit. And definitely don’t miss the Orchid Show, that is running until April 28th! 

 

Get Reservations at all the Rooftops and Gardens

Dining al fresco is so necessary but getting coveted tables for you and the squad can be tricky! I usually start booking reservations a few weeks in advance, then making plans with friends as I go. Waiting until the last-minute means missing out on prime outdoor seating during the most popular hours. A lot of places do take walk-ins, but I prefer not to be at the mercy of a wait list that can easily be an hour long! Plan a head or pick less popular times to make sure you can have the perfect Spring dining experience while the season lasts. My favorites are Lauduree, Public Kitchen, Jimmy for drinks and Serra at Eataly

 

Visit New Exhibits at all the City’s Museums

A museum day is one of my favorite things to do, especially on days where the weather is not quite nice enough to be outside. The iconic Costume Institute at the Met Museum opens May 9th and Brooklyn Museum has an incredible Frida Kahlo exhibit on now through May 12th. That one requires timed entry passes and they are selling out fast, so make sure you sign up asap! And on May 3rdthey open Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, a collection of work from 22 LGBTQ artists 50 years after Stonewall. 

 

Update Your Wardobe with Some Spring Shopping

Let your closet get a little taste of fresh air with some affordable fashion finds! Check out all your favorite retailers for Spring sales not to miss. You will need some new sundresses, flirty tops, comfy sandals, and standout accessories to get through the season! 

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4 Ways to Save on Summer Travel!

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Spring is the perfect time to plan a trip or take a last-minute getaway! Its early enough to catch a deal for a summer trip and the weather has warmed up in a lot of places so you'll have plenty of options. Here are my tips for planning a bucket list worthy trip on a budget!

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Be flexible on location

If you aren’t set on a specific destination you can easily find deals because you'll have so many options. You can look for flight deals or hotel specials and end up somewhere amazing for a bargain. It’s especially easy to save when you are going to a destination in the off season, which may be even more fun because it will be less flooded with tourists! You may have had your heart set on Paris in the summer but may be able to get that Parisian feel in another European destination. 

 

Look for deals in unexpected places 

If you are a seasoned traveler, you already are on the most popular deals and steals email lists. If you are looking for even more discounts or ways to sweeten the deal before buying, check out cash back sites like Ebates. Yes, you can earn cash back on your travel purchases! I’m also a big fan of browsing Amex Offers and members only deals in their travel section. They may not be big discounts, but you can often find things like free room upgrades or perks that will make your stay a special one. 

 

Plan based on a favorable currency exchange

Make your money go even farther by picking a destination with a favorable currency exchange! I recently went to Toronto for work and stayed at the super stylish Bisha Hotel, a boutique hotel with incredible ambiance. The exchange rate worked in my favor, saving on everything from the hotel, to meals, transportation and even shopping! If you really want to stretch your dollar, think about destinations in South America, Africa, or even Asia, and avoid Europe, especially Switzerland!

 

Go with a group

As much as I enjoy solo travel, costs can add up pretty quickly when you don’t have anyone to split things with. If you can round up 3 or 4 friends, you will save a ton sharing costs for accommodations, which is usually the biggest expense.  When I went to Colombia with a group of 8 we were able to get an incredible luxury villa that ended up costing around $100 a night each! Plus there were plenty of less fancy options for a fraction of that cost. Round up your squad and get to searching! 

 

Let me know what vacation destinations you have in mind this year! And follow me on Instagram to stay tuned to all my summer travel! 

 

4 Ways to Save on Summer Travel

A Sunny Staycation at Hollywood Hotel

Hollywood Hotel Review

This post is sponsored by Hollywood Hotel. All opinions are my own

Sometimes you need a winter escape. NYC has been freezing so I planned another little getaway to LA to get in some fun in the sun! I love the Hollywood area and Hollywood Hotel was gracious enough to partner with me on this post.

The 130-room Hollywood Hotel is one of the most reasonably priced hotels in the city and offers incredible value in a central location. Situated in Hollywood, it’s minutes away from boutique shopping, world-class dining and cutting edge culture, and the closest hotel to The Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park, LA Zoo, Greek theater and Mount Hollywood hiking trails.

The hotel has an on-site fitness center so you can squeeze in a workout when traveling and a beautiful, open-air fountain courtyard, and outdoor pool. Plus they offer a complimentary hot breakfast buffet served daily. A unique feature of the hotel is Hollywood Hotel’s own Comedy Club, which brings all-star comedians to the property on a weekly basis.

Hollywood Hotel Los Angeles
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Hollywood Hotel Pool
Hollywood Hotel LA Review
Hollywood Hotel Bar

The weather during my visit was pretty wet and chilly so didn’t encourage much exploring, so luckily the hotel was comfy enough for staying in. Make sure you stop by the bar, Route66 for happy hour and check out the vodka tasting!

Let me know if you end up here in LA and how you liked it! And thank you again to Hollywood Hotel for partnering with me on this post.

Hollywood Hotel LA Review

What to Do in Savannah (If you DGAF About Plantations & Trolleys)

Savannah Shopping Tips

I went on my second trip to Savannah a while ago and was once again enchanted by the beautiful city! If you have never been you seriously need to add it to your list! It’s full of charm, history, and fantastic food. A lot of the activities revolve around historic trolley rides, ghost tours and visiting plantations. I’ve heard great feedback about that kind of stuff, but it just isn’t how I’d like to spend my vacation. If you are thinking about going to Savannah but have no idea what to, here are a few ideas for how to spend a weekend, without once setting foot on a plantation! 

Savannah Nightlife Guide

Must-See Shopping in Savannah 

Savannah has some amazing shopping! There are so many cute boutiques for everything from fashion and accessories to honey. Check out Satchel, and if you are staying at the Perry Lane Hotel take advantage of the VIP experience. Hotel guests can have the concierge set up a meet and greet with the boutique’s owner and the chance to design your own leather bag or wallet. Also, be sure to stop in City Market, an open-air shopping center with boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. I also love The Paris Market for charming French goodies and the Savannah Bee Company for honey and honey infused beauty products. 

Explore the Tree-Lined Streets of Savannah 

The city is full of charm and is perfect to explore on foot. Wander aimlessly down River Street for scenic views and don’t miss Jones Street, which was voted one of the most beautiful streets in North America! 

Rooftop Parties in Savannah

Have a Beach Day

Tybee Island is just 20 minutes away and has a gorgeous coast and fresh seafood. If you’ve got time and are up for a longer drive, head down to Saint Simon Island, a gorgeous strip of beach about an hour South. There are also beaches on Hilton Head Island, if you aren’t up for the longer trek. 

Eat the Best Southern Food in Savannah 

Savannah is a great foodie destination! For fancy dinners check out the  Olde Pink House. Five Oaks Taproom or 700 Drayton. Don’t miss Café M or Two Cracked Eggs for a casual fun and yummy breakfast or lunch. And be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to Leopold’s Ice Cream or Savannah Candy Kitchen!  

Get the VIP Experience with a Professional Photo Shoot

Commemorate your trip with a pro photo shoot! Destiny Creations Photography is an amazing husband and wife team that will get you unforgettable photos from your trip! If you want to take the experience up a notch, bring in Charisse Styles, a fantastic stylist that works with the team! I worked with them on my last trip and she did a great job putting together these fun looks so I could get great pics without overpacking. It’s definitely worth it if you want to make the trip extra special!

Where to Eat in Savannah
Savannah Travel Guide

Let me know if you guys have been to Savannah and your favorite ways to pass the time there! 

48 Hours in Milwaukee

Kimpton Journeyman Hotel Review

I recently came back from another trip to Milwaukee! I’ve been there several times for work and on most occasions we are in and out of meetings all day so there isn’t much time to explore. However my most recent trip I had a little bit of extra time, so got to take advantage! Milwaukee may not be the most obvious choice for a domestic vacation, especially not in the Midwest. However I’ve found that it has a certain charm, an impressive food scene, and lots of trendy boutique hotels popping up that promise a stay you won’t forget. Check out a few of my tips for how to spend some time there!

48 Hours In Milwaukee Travel Tips

Where to Stay in Milwaukee

I’ve stayed at both the Iron Horse Hotel and the Kimpton Journeyman and both are amazing! They are stylish, comfortable, trendy, and in prime locations. Stay at the Kimpton if you don’t want to miss out on your IHG rewards and access to the unforgettable rooftop with a tabletop fireplace.

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Rooftop Cocktails Kimpton Journeyman

Restaurants to Try in Milwuakee

Both Iron Horse and Kimpton have fabulous restaurants! Make sure to stop in for drinks and dinner no matter where you end up staying. I also paid a visit to Blue Bat Kitchen and Tequilaria, a taco and tequila bar a few blocks from the Kimpton. The fish taco and salmon bowl were amazing and the margaritas strong and cheap, just like I like them!

Kimpton Journeyman Hotel Review
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What to Do in Milwaukee

Just being honest, the winters can be brutal! It was so cold even when I had time to get out I just couldn’t stand the weather. If you go in a less frigid time of year, the riverwalk is supposed to be a great place to explore, and there are plenty of brewery tours if you are into the beer scene. You can also explore the Historic Third Ward, which has a fun, artsy, vibe and lots of beautiful architecture. And don’t forget to wander through the Milwaukee Public Market for shopping, snacking and of course, drinking.

If you do bring any one thing back, definitely make it the cheese! Seriously! I picked up a few bricks of cheddar at the airport and it was to die for! if you have time grab it at one of the markets for something that will probably be even better.

That’s it for now, or at least until my next trip!





New Year New Look: My New Healthy Hair Routine for 2019

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HaircareWithIntegrity #CollectiveBias

South Beach Miami Beaches
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Summer Style in Miami

How is the first week of 2019 treating you? Hopefully you are recovered from plenty of time spent ringing in the New Year, and are ready to start the new year with a bang! This time of year is great for reflecting on all the changes the previous year, diving into your goals, and trying something new. I’m not particularly one for New Years Resolutions, but I did set one that I’m going to try to keep – take better care of my hair! It may sound shallow compared to people that are setting career, fitness and other big life goals. But self-care is important, and it goes for both the inside and out. I have to admit that I was not the best to my hair in 2018!

I experimented with color and a chemical treatment, and did way more straightening than I used to. By the end of the year my strands were, dry, frizzy, full of breakage and desperately needing some TLC. I decided that I’m going to dedicate the first half of 2019 to restoring the health and strength of my hair. Part of that journey means lots of protective styling to give my hair the break it needs. Protective styling breaks are essential for naturally kinky textures since our hair tends to be drier, more coarse and prone to damage from frequent manipulation. So you will see me wearing lots more protective styles like braids and wigs, which still allow for flexibility and fun with your hair, but they keep your natural hair safe from damage causing elements. I also found some new star products that so far have been a hero for my hair! 

Hover over the image below to start shopping the products!

Biotera Natural Origin Collection features seven color-safe products that gently restore beauty and radiance, delivering the honest-to-goodness healthy hair you need to achieve salon perfection. The products feature up to 97% naturally derived ingredients, offering a high quality alternative to some premium products for a fraction of the cost. 

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I’ve been using the NURTURE Conditioner and Masque, which is perfect for dry hair. It’s enriched with nourishing Coconut Oil and Honey and smells just delicious! I alternate the NURTURE line with the RESTORE strengthening line, which repairs damaged hair. It’s enriched with nutrient-rich Goji Berry and Chia Extract, and all their products are free from silicones, sulfates, parabens and dyes. They also use biodegradable formulas and 100% recyclable packaging, so you can care for your hair and the Earth at the same time. Here’s a quick tutorial on my new healthy hair routine and how I’m saving my strands without compromising my style! 

Sunday’s are wash day so I start by gently detangling my hair using the Biotera Nuture Conditioner. I separate my curls into small sections and using just a little bit of my homemade spritz (aloe vera juice & rosewater) and a lot of the conditioner, I gently finger detangle each section. I do not use a comb or any styling tools, just my fingers and a lot of patience. Then I pop on a plastic cap and let that sit for a bit, mostly just to give my arms a break! Then shampoo and follow with a deep conditioning mask. I alternate between the Nuture and Restore Masques to balance moisturization and strengthening. As far as styling, I’m keeping that super simple! My hair hangs out in braids or twists and during the week I play with fun hair accessories, headwraps, or wigs so I always look cute and stylish. The routine is easy, simple, and keeping my hair healthy. 

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When shopping for my hair/ beauty essentials, like my Biotera products or fun hair accessories to style with, Sally Beauty is the place to start. Look for Biotera next time you are there, and learn more about the brand and product line on their site!

Let me know what your 2019 resolutions are, for beauty, hair, health or whatever! 

Secret Weapons for Healthy Hair

2019 Travel Bucket List - 4 Can't Miss Destinations

2019 Travel Destinations
travel tips for 2019

Something highly unusual is happening for me right now. It’s almost the end of December, and I seriously have ZERO 2019 trips planned at this point. This time last year I had 4 trips planned between February and May, so this is definitely not my style! Granted, I did say I was going to prioritize my savings in an aggressive way, so cutting back on leisure travel is a big part of it. But I’m still completely itching to hop on a plane to somewhere for a few days! Hopefully I’ll drum up some business that takes me somewhere exciting, but in the meantime I’m fantasizing about a few places that are hot on my list this year.  Fingers crossed I make it to a few of these!

 

Bordeaux, France Wine Country

I love spending time in Europe in Spring and summer, and have been lucky enough to explore a lot of the continent since I lived in Italy. Yup, did you guys know I speak Italian? I’ve been to several cities in France, from Paris to the South, but have always skipped over wine country. I’ve been pretty inspired to go since one of my old friends bought a GORGEOUS villa there! It’s the Domaine de Montvert by Sitawi-Bottone in Saint Emilion Bordeaux wine country. It’s unbelievably charming and big enough for a family or group of friends. Bordeaux is supposed to be one of the most stunning regions in France, and since I already have the perfect place to stay in mind, I need to start planning a trip However, for the first trip on my 2019 Travel Bucket List, I'm considering a visit to my friends at JP Linguistics (www.jplinguistics.com) to help me brush up on my French before I go! They offer really fun language classes in French, Italian & Spanish in SOHO, NYC and it might be just the right time to pay them a visit as I prep for the first trip on my bucket list!. France can be a pretty tough country to travel if you don’t speak any French, so taking a few lessons will come in handy!

 Sri Lanka Beaches

 

Another region that has been on my radar all year is Sri Lanka. It’s quite a trip, but the scenery looks so stunning and it’s supposed to be pretty affordable once you are on the ground. 

 

All Over California

 

In 2018 I said I wanted to do more domestic travel, and I’ve had a blast in several new cities in the US. I went to Cali a few times this year, mostly for business, and every time I went I wished I had more time there. So in 2019 I owe myself a true California vacation experience – no work, just beaches, scenery and exploring!

 

Zanzibar, Tanzania

I’ve been ready for another trip to Africa since my incredible journey to South Africa a few years ago. Zanzibar has been calling me loud and clear, so WHEN I can afford that long-haul sure to be pricey flight I will be on my way. 

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Let me know what is on your travel bucket list for next year any beyond, and shop this story below!

 

 

 

 

All the Art Basel Events You Can Actually Get Into!

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I’m on my way to another Art Basel Miami! I pretty much go every year, mostly because I love the art but also because it’s a great excuse to get somewhere warm when NY is freezing cold. If you are planning on attending but not sure what to do when you get down there, here are a bunch of options. These events are all open to the public so you can buy tickets and have an amazing time on the scene, even if your VIP pass went missing AGAIN!

Art Basel Miami Art Fairs

Obviously if you are in town for Art Basel you need to see some art. All of the fairs are open to the public and you can buy tickets online. You also MUST pass through Wynwood and explore the incredible street art all over the neighborhood. I’m leaving links to my favorites below. If you plan on attending let me know in the comments and maybe we’ll bump into each other!

The Official Art Basel

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Pulse

Art Miami

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Art Basel Parties & Events

Part of the fun of Art Basel Miami is the parties and events. Here are a few that are open to the public that you can buy tickets to. I will probably check some of these out myself.

Pigment International

Style Fashion Week Presents Fashion Basel

Pulse Young Collectors Cocktail

Art Basel Miami Hot Spots

And while you are in between shows and events, pop into these hot spots to grab a drink or app, and of course, see and be seen!

The Edition Hotel

Freehand Miami

News Cafe

The Standard Hotel

The 1 Hotel

If you’ve got time and patience, check out Eventbrite for hundreds of other events as well! The options really are endless. And if you can squeeze in some beach time. I know I’ll need it before flying back to frigid NYC!

Miami Art Basel Guide


Cyber Week Sales You Can't Miss

Cyber Week Shopping Tips

Happy Thanksgiving guys! I’m getting ready to start stuffing my face, but before I do, I had to share some can’t miss deals you need to start shopping. This is the best time of year to save big on everything from holiday presents, your favorite things to stock up on, and even travel deals for your next vacation! If you are ready to do some serious shopping, here are my favorite sales for Cyber Week!

Fashion Sales and Deals

BB Dakota

Take 50% off Fall 2018 Black Styles starting Friday, 11/23, and starting Monday, 11/26 shop Fall 2018 Outerwear at 50% off. Use code THANKS50 at checkout for both!

Fashion Nova

How’s up to 80% site wide sound? Get some amazing discounts on already affordable items with code BLACK40.

Topshop

Take up to 50% off selected lines, prices already marked down on site!

Revolve

Influencer fave Revolve is also having 50% off select items! Some stuff can still be a bit pricey, so if you are anything like me, sort by price before diving in!

Nordstrom

Black Friday is the best time to shop Nordstrom, maybe even better than the Anniversary Sale! They are offering up to 60% off across categories, including Women’s, Men’s Kid’s and Home!

Cyber Week Beauty Sales

Beauty and Skincare Sales

Nars

One of my go to brands is having a 20% off sitewide sale, including exclusives you won’t see anywhere else! This is the only time of year Nars offers discounts, so stock up while you can!

Ulta

A slew of Black Friday deals, from $10 mascaras $15 palettes, and 40% off beauty faves from Anastasia Beverly Hills!

Sephora

They just wrapped their VIB Sale, but are still offering up to 50% off items in their Beauty Sale section! Take a look, especially if you missed out on the VIB discounts!

Hum Nutrition

My go-to vitamin brand for pretty much anything is offering 50% off site wide with code HUMDAY18. I take about 6 of their vitamins on a daily basis so will be stocking up on my faves!

DevaCurl

Give your strands some TLC with Devacurl! I love their product line and they are currently offering Buy 2 get 1 Free on select products. Not the best deal, but they are pretty pricey and don’t discount often, so take what you can get!

Cyber Week Shopping Sales


Holiday Travel Deals and Steal

Delta

Yes airlines have sales too! Delta is hands-down one of the best and on their limited edition Black Friday sale International Flights are on sale in a big way! I’ve seen fares from several major US cities to European destinations like Paris, Portugal, and the UK. Get to browsing and be prepared to get creative with your dates!

Priceline

The discount travel site is offering a slew of Black Friday hotel discounts for email subscribers, with Express Deal coupons for up to 50% in savings on hotels. Get on their email list so you don’t miss out!

Cathay Pacific

A flight to Asia for $600! Yes please. Cathay Pacific’s Black Friday sale is on, with up to 60% off flights to several Asian destinations.

IHG Hotels

IHG Hotel group is offering 25% off the best available rates on over 5,000 properties in their network, plus additional perks and bonus points for loyalty members. So if you aren’t planning a vacation, now is a good time to start!

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Let me know what you guys are most excited about buying!

3 Savannah Travel Tips You Need Now!

Savannah Travel Guide
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Forsyth Park Savannah
Savannah Travel Ideas

Happy to be back home from a lovely weekend in Savannah! I’m making so much progress on my goal to do more domestic travel this year, and I can only say I wish I made it to Savannah sooner. It was my first time exploring the city, and I got a beautiful couple of days to experience the charm, beauty, and incredible food. We kept our itinerary light, even though there is so much to experience there. You could spend over a week here easily, just taking it all in! Here are just a few highlights of the trip!

Eat and Drink Everything

Some cities can be hit or miss with the restaurant scene, but not Savannah. I didn’t even have one single mediocre meal in town. Definitely do breakfast at 2 Cracked Eggs, brunch or lunch at Cafe M, and dine at 700 Drayton or The Olde Pink House. Plus there is no open-container law in Savannah so feel free to take your drinks around town with you.

Skip Plantations, Explore the Parks

We made it a point to avoid any plantations or related tours. As a woman of color it was not something I felt motivated to see, even though there are SO MANY options if you are into that. The parks and streets of Savannah are just as gorgeous and I didn’t feel like I missed anything by avoiding them.

Enjoy the Shopping (or Browsing)

Downtown Savannah has the cutest collection of local boutiques, antique shops, and mom and pop stores. I’m not big on souvenir shopping, but loved wandering in and out of the charming shops exploring all the little goodies.

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Let me know if you visit this charming city! And if you are in town and want some professional shots to commemorate your trip, check out Destiny Creations Photography. I decided to leave my tripod at home, save my Insta-Hubby the trouble, and partner with a pro instead, and I’m loving the results!

3 Ways to Travel More in 2019!

San Diego Beaches

What are the things that keep you from traveling more? For most people it’s a combination of financial resources or not having people to travel with. Since this was requested in my last Instagram story survey, I’m sharing a few of my tips for affordable travel on your own!

Holy Matcha San Diego

 Save for It

In addition to my main savings account, I regularly stash away my coins in a travel fund. I’m never saving for a specific trip or destination, more just making sure I always have funds set aside for when the opportunity arises. I use a savings app called Digit which skims your checking account and quietly transfers small amounts of money into a separate bank account. The transfers are usually small -$5 here, $10 there and they include overdraft protection just in case one of their withdrawals accidentally causes you to into the negative.  I’ve saved thousands of dollars in the years I’ve been using them! Since transfers back to your back account typically only take a day, when I book a trip on my credit card I can immediately transfer money from my Digit account to pay it off.  I also loosely follow a great tip I read in one of R29’s Money Diaries – pop $20 a week into an envelope that you keep in a secure location in your apartment. At the end of the year that’s $1000! So when you see a super-cheap fare sale to an amazing destination, you can jump on it!

Old City San Diego
Aruba Renaissance Island

 Try a Travel Group

Instagram travel groups are pretty much everywhere, from Travel Noire to Sisters and Suitcases. If you don’t have a group of friends you can travel with but don’t necessarily want to go alone those are a great option, albeit not the most affordable. I do think it’s worth paying a bit extra since they are conveniently organized and include some great experiences, but there are also a ton of travel groups on Meetup that organize different trips, and usually have get togethers in their city so you can get to know the squad before hopping on a plane with them. 

 

Mallorca Spain

Choose Your Destination Differently

You may have your heart set on an adventure with your squad in Thailand or somewhere far-flung and exotic, but if you are on a budget and going solo you need to think about destinations that make sense for you. Think about destinations you’d like to visit and how you would spend your days there. If you’d be happy to lay on the beach with a good book, cocktail and seaside massage, the Caribbean or even Southern California would be perfect! If you are an art buff and love museum and gallery hopping, there are plenty of affordable cities that are art nerd friendly, like Philadelphia in the US and London abroad. It’s not the cheapest, but fare sales are plentiful if you are flexible on timing and all the museums are free. Start trip planning not by thinking about the destination, but activities you would like to do and would be comfortable doing alone. I made a New Year’s Resolution to do more domestic travel this year, and I’ve been enjoying fun little weekends to classic destinations like Savannah and random spots like Hawley, PA.  

 

And now that you’ve found your dream solo-trip, this post has everything you need to make sure you still get amazing travel photos! Also let me know in the comments or on Instagram if there are other topics you’d like to see me cover! 

Pin me for later!

Pin me for later!

Fall Goals! The Perfect Halloween Weekend in the Poconos

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You guys know the Poconos is one of my favorite weekend escapes from the city! It’s cute, it’s close and has a burgeoning foodie scene that is not to be missed. I spent a lovely weekend there in partnership with Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau to get in the spirit of Halloween! Check out some of the highlights from the trip below!

We stayed at Settlers Inn, a quaint property that sits on six acres of land and is bordered by the Lackawaxen River. It was built in 1928 and boasts a garden and farm-to-table restaurant with an award winning wine list. It’s the perfect place to relax for a weekend, eat way too much amazing food and enjoy the stunning views. The Halloween highlight was the Storytelling Dinner. The week before the dinner they host a Pumpkin Carving, where over 100 pumpkins are intricately carved then set on display around the hotel. I could spend hours exploring the unique, creative designs that are lit up all over the hotel and dot the tables in the Storytelling Dinner. We indulged in the decadent Fall inspired menu as a storyeller regaled us with spooky Halloween tales.

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The next day we took the long, scenic walk to the up to the Hawley Silk Mill. It’s a former silk and textile factory that now houses a coffee shop and assortment of local shops. I wish I had planned to do some shopping because there were so many lovely candles, body butterss, crafts and home decor waiting to come home with me! After a bit of wandering, we headed down the road to Ledges Hotel, a chic, modern property at the base of a natural river gorge fall. It has a stunning bar called Glass, with unforgettable views of the river Fall and a great menu of wine and tapas. It started raining so we stayed inside with a bottle of wine for a bit, then headed back to Settlers.

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Hawley Silk Mill Shops
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The weather wasn’t really conducive to exploring, but Lake Wallenpaupack is supposed to be quite a stunner. You can have lunch at The Dock at Silver Birches and take in the views. And be sure to take the scenic route back to NY on Route 6. You can explore the charming town Milford and stop by Raymondskill Falls or GreyTowers National Historic Site.

If you are thinking about a late Fall or Winter weekend getaway, definitely make the trip up to Hawley! Check out the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau for everything you need to plan your trip any time of year, but especially for next year’s Storytelling Dinner!

The Perfect NYC Staycation at Nomo Soho

Images by Wini Lao

Images by Wini Lao

Sometimes you just need to escape from it all! When life gets way too crazy and you find yourself getting overwhelmed, the perfect way to check out and relax is to take a little staycation. We can’t always jet off to exotic destinations unless you just happen to have major bank and unlimited time off, so a staycation is the next best thing. You can find a deal at a great hotel in your city to hideaway for a few days and get some much needed peace and quiet.  

Nomo Soho Staycation
Staycation at Nomo Soho
Nomo Soho Staycation Destination
DIY Skin Care Treatments

Nomo Soho is one of my favorites. It has everything you need for the perfect solo staycation – beautiful modern décor, a stellar restaurant and bar, comfortable, luxurious linens, plenty of cute nooks for photo opps, and heavenly plush bathrobes you can cozy up in! If you are feeling a little social the bar and lobby lounge are always great to hang out in. Or you can just lock your door and indulge in some of your favorite beauty treatments while ordering room service. Just be sure to get a room with a view, because the city skyline is not to be missed. 

If you are looking for great last minute deals I love Hotel Tonight and TravelZoo. And old fashioned, I know, but sometimes just calling the hotel reception can get you a major discount or unpublished rate. They may have a ton of rooms open last minute that they would love to fill. I’ve done this several times, for last minute trips and ones being planned weeks in advance, and have gotten up to 25% off the published rate, just by asking! 

NYC Hotel Guide

3 Ways to See Flamingos in Aruba

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First things first – if you’ve never been to Aruba add it to your list immediately! The desert island is a quick 4 hour flight from NYC and is home to beautiful beaches, amazing food, and lots of rugged island terrain begging to be explored. You have probably seen lots of pictures of Aruba, and I bet some of the most iconic shots include flamingos on the beach. It’s one of the most well-known sites in Aruba, but there are a few things you need to know if you want to see the flamingo beach. I’ll be blogging more about the trip overall next week, but for now, here are 3 things you need to know if you want to see flamingos in Aruba!

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They are only on one private beach

‘Flamingo Island” as it is sometimes called, is actually Renaissance Private Island, a private island owned by the Renaissance Hotel. It’s a beautiful private island with 2 strips of beach, a restaurant, bar, spa cove, and private beach front cabanas you can rent for the day. The flamingos, all 6 of them, live on one strip of beach on the island. There are also baby flamingoes that live on the other side, but we were told they like to hide from visitors so we didn’t get to see them. 

 

Swimming with Flamingos in Aruba

Access to the island is kind of a pain

If you are determined to see the flamingos, you either need to be a guest of the hotel or purchase a day pass. I was with a group of 8 so we had a villa instead of hotel rooms, but I did debate booking a room for one night just so we could go to the private island. However only one other person wanted to join so it wouldn’t have been as cost-effective. The hotel also sells a limited number of day passes to non-hotel guests. Those will cost you $100, and since they are so limited you will need to be up in line at the crack of dawn to make sure you get one. The hotel staff starts selling them at 7, and they are gone within minutes! The concierge said that typically there is a line wrapped around the lobby, with the first people arriving at 5! Some of you might be early birds, but for me, getting up that early on a vacation is out of the question, especially since you have no real guarantee you will walk away with tickets.

But I did some further digging and found out that the only other way to access the island without being a hotel guest or having a day pass is to book a spa appointment! The hotel operates a full service spa, and a beach front cove on the island that offers a few different massage packages. Me and my friend booked a couples massage with lunch (it was cheaper than doing 2 individuals!) and that was our way to definitely get in without sacrificing sleep! We booked appointments for 11, and rolled up to the hotel to catch the ferry around 9:30. That gave us plenty of time to wander the island, get to know the flamingos and get some great shots, then enjoy a relaxing massage before lunch.

Flamingos in Aruba

It's pricey but worth it

The spa package set us back about $200 each, which is in line with what you’ll pay for spa treatments at a high end hotel spa, but still was A LOT to spend in one day on a trip. But I do have to say it was worth it! The massage was great, scenery beautiful, and seeing flamingos up close and personal IRL is really a unique experience. 

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If you go to Aruba, let me know if you visit the island, and how you get in! 

The Instagrammers Guide to San Diego

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Back from a fabulous weekend in San Diego! It was my second time in the city and I fell even more in love. It's absolutely beautiful, with amazing food, stunning beaches, and super friendly people. What's not to love! I'm more of a travel blogger now than I was when I went a few years ago so obviously I wanted to hit up as many Instagram worthy spots. Priorities,  I know! If you want to make the most of your San Diego trip while also getting as much #content as possible, here are my go to spots in the city!

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Wander around North Park

North Park is to San Diego what Brooklyn is to NYC - cute, trendy, and getting more and more buzzy. Start with a healthy bite at Communal Coffee, a coffee shop that sells classic hipster fare lie bowls and vegan baked goods. They also share a space with Native Poppy, the cutest florist, and next door is Pigment an adorable shop featuring a giant pink wall, a build your own succulent station and plenty of other social media bait. 

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A few blocks way is Holy Matcha, or the place of my dreams! The decor is all pink and green, and the menu is full of beautiful and refreshing drinks and snacks. When I was there pretty much everyone was taking advantage of all the photo opps, and the staff didn't mind at all.

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After you've gotten a healthy bite, wander across the street to Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream. All of their flavors are incredible, so get a tasting flight so you can sample them all! 

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Take the Ferry to Hotel del Coronado

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The Hotel del Coronado is a San Diego icon. It has a rich history, beautiful beach, and cute restaurants and bars with beachfront views.  If you are in a rush you can take a taxi or drive, but the ferry is also a great way to get to the island if you want to take in some views on the journey. 

Hang out in Pacific Beach

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Pacific Beach, or PB as the locals call it, is a laid-back surfer town near the beach. Grab an acai bowl from The Mad Beet to snack on while you catch some sun, and when you are ready to dig in, stop by Kono's, a low-key beach front restaurant serving breakfast all day.  

Explore the Old Town

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The Old Twn is the historic heart of San Diego. It was established in 1769 and was California's first settlement. There are lush gardens, great restaurants, and a charming, old world Mexican-American feel. 

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There is so much more to experience in San Diego, from Sunset Cliffs, to Balboa Park, and even day trips to Mexico. I only had a few days so had to choose carefully, but I will definitely be back to this charming city. Let me know your favorite places in San Diego for when I plan my next visit!

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Summer Day Trip: Long Island's Lavender Farm

Summer Beauty Ideas

Nothing screams summer like a flower field! Of all the things I love about summer, mini escapes from the city are my fave. We took a little day trip out to Lavender By The Bay, a beautiful little lavender field in Long Island. 

Summer Hair and Makeup

The field starts to bloom in July and August, turning into a gorgeous sea of purple blooms. The English and French lavender bloom at different times in July and August, so check out their bloom tracker for an idea of when to visit. Try to time your visit as soon as they reach peak bloom because the farm does cut back the flowers as they  bloom, the field gets smaller and smaller.  And you don't want to miss out on views like this! 

Lavender by the Bay Farm
Lavender Field Day Trip
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After you've got your photo opps in, stop by the store for some dried lavender, cute little soaps and candles, and other pretty little souviners from the trip. You can also shop the goodies online if you can't make the trip. 

What are your fave spots to spend a day outside the city? Let me know in the comments, and shop the story below!

Vacation Countdown! The Beauty Routine to Get You Ready for Any Trip!

Garnier Facial Mist

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RAWellnessBeauty #July #CollectiveBias

Who loves summer weekends?! This season is the best season, especially when summer Fridays start and you can skip out of work early for fun with the squad! If you know you’ve got a weekend adventure coming up, here are a few steps to take the week before to make sure your skin stays glowing from head to toe!

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The first and most important step is keeping your skin clear! I wear makeup every day, and I do not skip a beat when it comes to cleansing. My first and final steps both include micellar water to make sure my makeup is thoroughly removed every day. Daylogic is Rite Aid’s Beauty Brand and their Micellar (pronounced my-sell-er) water is a combination of purified water; hydrating ingredients and low concentrations of molecules of mild surfactants that naturally group together to form microscopic spheres called micelles, which act like magnets for dirt and oil.  So it removes makeup, cleanses, and refreshes in one step! I use it with the Daylogic Premium Exfoliating Cotton Rounds to give my skin some gentle exfoliating action. The next step is to go in with my favorite face wash for an even deeper clean, especially when I’m wearing a lot of makeup. Then I give my skin a final swipe with the micellar water to make sure all the makeup and residue is clear!

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I also love giving my skin a refreshing spritz with the Garnier SkinActive Soothing Facial Mist. Just spray it on your face anytime your skins need to feel a little refreshed -  when you wake up, after a shower, right before you leave the house, or to refresh your makeup through the day! I especially love it after a long flight to refresh my skin or after gym or sauna for instant hydration.  You can even use it to moisten a blending sponge before applying foundation or concealer.

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Now onto the rest of your bod! You’ve got your skin refreshed, your bikini packed, but you cannot forget to wax!  Nad’s Body Wax Strips for Normal Skin are perfect for a quick at-home wax. Use as needed to get ready to hit the beach or pool in your favorite swimsuit. The Wax formula contains natural ingredients such as beeswax and calendula flower extracts and is suitable for all skin types. The strips are ready to use – just rub, peel & go!

Beach Essentials from Rite Aid
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If you want to add these products into your rotation, get them at Rite Aid! They’ve got a great wellness+beauty offer – get a total of up to $28 in coupons via printed brochure in select stores and Load2Card coupons on riteaid.com

Now all you need are a few extra cute outfits!

Summer Staycations: 3 Quick & Easy Road Trip Ideas from NYC

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As much as I love to travel, I kind of enjoy staying local in the summer. There are literally 1000 things to do every day, so it's nice to have time here to explore the options.  Plus you can always do a day trip! I love escaping the city for a quick day trip. If you don't have a ton of time off, or are getting a little bit of travel burnout from taking too many longer trips, check out some of these ideas for quick day trips you can take from the city! 

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Southampton

If you slacked on getting a rental and only have 1 day for the Hamptons, I suggest Southampton! It's a quick 2 hour drive, and has both a quaint town with great shops and restaurants and amazing beaches. Do yourself a favor and skip the popular Cooper's Beach and head to Road D Beach instead. It's just down the road but way less crowded, and parking in that area is free, while at Cooper's it's $40 a car! 

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North Fork

Wine country that's an hour and a half away? Sign me up! The best way to spend a day in North Fork is vineyard hopping. There are a ton of wineries in the region where you can taste to your heart's content. If you are heading that direction check out Lavender by the Bay. It's a beautiful little farm with English and French lavender that blooms in July & August. Check out their website for updates on what's in bloom! 

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The Catskills

If you are up for some scenic hikes, gorgeous views, and AMAZING food, check out the Catskills! It's about a 2.5 hour drive from the city, and the scenery is super pretty as you head north. Make sure to stop at Prospect at Scribners for lunch, and if you are thinking about an overnight, definitely stay there! I went in April and it was just incredible! 

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Let me know where you end up heading!

4 Vacation Workout Tips You Need to Stay In Shape on the Road!

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As much as I love travel, there is one downside - struggling to stay on your health game! Temptation is everywhere, and between the dining out, sipping cocktails, and all the local goodies you have to sample. It's gotten harder and harder to stay in shape as I've gotten older, so I really have to find ways to stay balanced.

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When I travel for just a long weekend I usually skip the workouts just because you have less time to explore and it's really not a big deal if you only miss a few days in the gym. But on my recent trip to Spain was almost 10 days long, so I knew I needed to get in exercise at least 3 or 4 times on that trip! Here is how I was able to squeeze in my sweat sessions while on a long vacation!

1. Pick a hotel with a gym

A lot of hotels have fitness centers, so when you are starting your search, look for properties that have that as an amenity. Even if it isn't a fancy one with a lot of high-tech equipment, you can still get a quality workout session done. 

2. Use your room if you have to

If you end up at a hotel that doesn't have a gym,  you can still make do with what you've got! Download or print out free workouts that don't require equipment and get to work in your room. Remember, you can do push-ups and squats anywhere! I also usually travel with a pair of resistance bands, and here are some band-only exercises I love!  

3. Make fitness part of your itinerary

Go hiking, take a long walk through town, or check out a local fitness studio. If you prioritize staying in shape while on your journey, you will find a way to make it happen!

4. Don't be afraid to leave your friends

Not everyone will share your priorities or want to spend their time the way you do. If you are traveling in a group and you find yourself being the only one that wants to get a workout in, then go right ahead and do it! If you have group activities planned that you don't want to miss, get up earlier or plan which days will be your workout days and which will be off.  

Let me know if you care more about staying fit even when you are on the go, and how you accomplish that! And if you like my workout look, shop the story below!
 

Selfie-Queen! How to Step Up Your Photography Game

You may have noticed something about my pics from my recent Spain trip. I was alone in most shots. Even though I was travelling in Mallorca with a few friends, neither of them were big on photos and I knew that neither of them would be down to play insta-wife for the week! Obviously, I still wanted great travel photos, but I didn't want to be the annoying brat and constantly pester my friends. And sometimes when you want something done you've got to do it yourself! So I came prepared to do a lot of my own photos to make sure I had content I would be happy with. If you have an upcoming trip coming up and you want to guarantee you'll get the photos you want, check out my tips below!

Self-Portrait-Photography-Tips

1. Pack the right goods!

I'm a huge fan of my tripod! It's lightweight and highly portable, but unfolds to a full 50 inches! I was nervous about it fitting in my suitcase since I only took a carry-on, but it wedged in perfectly and added basically no weight. I also shoot on a Canon G7X, which is compact but takes great photos and videos. The flip-up screen also comes in really handy when you are trying to take self-portraits, so you can see yourself in the screen at different angles. And when I'm shooting a lot of looks in the city, I often carry around a portable pop-up tent. I didn't travel with one of these, but a blogger friend of mine does so she can shoot extra looks when she is out and about and there are no public bathrooms to change in. 

2. Be Safe

Since you have to set-up your tripod and camera then run into the shot, you want to make sure you are shooting somewhere that you and your stuff will be safe. I took a lot of my photos around our resort, so it was restricted just to guests and staff. I would never pop-it out on a busy, main street where someone could grab it and run off! 

Poolside Summer Mornings

3. Get Up Earlier

If you want scenic pictures without a lot of people in the background, you have to start early in the morning. I started shooting these pool pics around 8am, so I could have it completely empty. As you can imagine, having a bunch of families and kids splashing around would have ruined the shot! It's also nicer to shoot when no one is watching you, especially if you can be a little shy or self-conscious. People will definitely look at you like you are either crazy or completely self-absorbed, but don't let them bring you down! 

Travel Self-Portrait

4. Have Fun and Get Creative

When you are in control of your shot, you can take more time and get more creative than your friends would if they were snapping you quickly. You can play with different lighting and angles, try shooting close-up and from a distance like in the photo above, and get the exact scenery and angles that you want in the shot. After all, it's your photo so have fun with it! 

Let me know your ideas on getting good travel pics, and check out more of my pics from the trip on Instagram, @malikahkelly!