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And They’ve Done It Again! Global Jetsetters Donna & Paul Traveled to the Exotic Croatia…

If you don’t already know Donna and Paul Scales, let me introduce you. You may have seen their incredible pictures from destinations all over the world. Does the handle “Global Jetsetter” ring a bell? Donna & Paul are living out any traveler’s dream — exploring the most exotic and exclusive destinations on earth. On many occasions, you will be at work – but will find these two in some far away land – wearing their Global Jetsetter branded apparel that includes their famous tagline “Where to Next?” That’s really not just a tagline — they really mean – Where to Next? LOL!

Within the last few years, traveling has become something that more African-Americans are doing in large and impressive numbers and visiting impressive and highly sought after destinations. These two have definitely made indelible and rich memories that will last a lifetime. Not to mention the education they’ve received that can only be achieved by seeing the world first hand. They have seen many things and can tell many stories – and because of this, they are qualified to educate others on how to achieve their dreams of global travel.

“Where To Next?” landed Donna & Paul in Croatia this year. Have you ever heard of Croatia? Moreover, have you ever considered traveling to Croatia? If you’re anything like me, I was immediately intrigued with their destination selection and wondered how many black and brown people would they see? Would they be safe, feel included and comfortable? On a rainy day, I had the pleasure of interviewing Donna about their trip to Croatia. Here are my questions and her responses to my questions about their trip to Croatia.

Would you consider yourself an avid traveler? Yes, I would consider myself an avid traveler these days at the age of 46. I first got the travel bug while dating my now husband when I was 22 years old. My first time flying was when he invited me to Las Vegas for a friend’s birthday celebration. At the time, I truly had no idea that Las Vegas was considered the “desert” but imagined palm trees and perhaps a beach … it was at that moment that I decided to educate myself on geographic locations in the United States. I’ve been traveling ever since and have visited 39 countries so far and counting.

What made you decide to travel to Croatia? That’s a great question! In all honesty, we decided on Croatia because it sounded like a great idea at the time of booking. We also knew that Dubrovnik is the filming location for HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones. Once we booked it and I began to do more research, I discovered Croatia is so much more than the Game of Thrones set. The photos of clear blue water, stunning sunsets, and medieval architecture REALLY peaked my interest, and the excitement started to build.

Did you have any concerns traveling to a destination that isn’t accustomed to seeing Black-Americans? Not at all. When traveling we make it a point to read the travel advisories issued by U.S. Department of State. We also register all of our international travel with Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling abroad to enroll with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A Visa was not required for us to travel to Croatia, which for us, was our green light!

Did you feel comfortable going about your traveler business in Croatia? While visiting Croatia, the people we made contact with were very genuine and very proud! Some of the things we conversed about with the locals was tourism, historic events, the economy, and sports such as basketball, tennis, and soccer which is a commonality amongst our 2 countries. English was the language spoken at all restaurants and points of interest; they also have Uber in Dubrovnik as with most major big cities which made getting around really convenient and easy.

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What was the most fascinating thing about your trip to Croatia? WOW! The easy answer would be everything! We spent 8 days there where we did and saw so much. In addition to the beautiful beaches, food, people and touristy things we did, what we recorded mentally is Croatia has over 1,000 islands along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. Most are small and inhabitable, but what’s sketched in memory is that the pure white limestone for the White House in Washington, DC and other well know world structures came from the island of Brac. Brac Island is known for the famous and crowded white pebble Zlatni Rat beach, often named a top beach in Europe. We didn’t visit Brac Island but I could imagine how beautiful it must be. When it comes to travel, we love exploring and taking photos with beautiful architecture as a backdrop. We now know where the stones came from for our very own gem in the United States which can now be a topic of discussion because of our visit to Croatia. One of my favorite quotes is “The best education I have ever received was through travel.” by Lisa Ling.

I also didn’t know that Croatia was known for its grape growing region which rivals that of Italy and/or California’s Napa Valley! We stayed on Korcula Island (pronounced kor-chula) for 5 days which is best known for its white wines, but they had delicious red wines as well. We explored many vineyards and sampled local wines (Grk, Posip, Rukatac (Marastina) and Plavac Mali), and other local products such as wild herbs and traditional soaps, marmalades, brandy, liquors, and olive oil. We even enjoyed a cooking class where were made tradition Dalmatian pastries from scratch using local products.

Describe your favorite meal while in Croatia. It’s a toss-up between the pasta and seafood; both of which are my favorite cuisine. The pasta was always fresh with various sauces and they offered various types of white fish. Another popular dish in Croatia was Octopus Salad, which I bravely sampled, and Dalmatian prosciutto; a cured meat product made from fresh pork (ham) with bone. The ham is salted with sea salt, smoked and matured for no less than 12 months. It’s also a product protected with a geographical origin indicator. I haven’t eaten pork in 4 years. When the restaurant owner and chef of the establishment we frequented while in Korcula gifted us with Dalmatian prosciutto as an appetizer, out of respect for his generosity, I sampled … actually ate quite a bit of it and I’m glad that I did!

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What’s the best piece of advice that you wish you had received prior to traveling to Croatia? Since we didn’t know anyone that has visited Croatia, the best advice I can give to anyone traveling from the United States is to thoroughly research your travel options. We were able to save $700 roundtrip per person by booking a roundtrip ticket to Amsterdam from the United States; and a roundtrip ticket to Dubrovnik from Amsterdam. Give yourself ample time in between landings times as you’ll need to clear immigration and customs in Amsterdam (or whichever European country you fly into). We also didn’t know the travel time and travel route to Korcula Island. Once we arrived in Dubrovnik, it was 2-hour scenic ride to Orebic … and the views were absolutely breathtaking! Once we arrived in Orebic we took a 15-minute ferry ride to Korcula Island where we witnessed the most beautiful sunset from the water. Upon our arrival on Korcula Island, it was a 45-minute ride to get to the other side of the island. So as you can imagine, that was a lot of travel time that we didn’t anticipate while the excitement about Croatia was brewing; we just knew we were going. My dear friend Kinyatta Gray has always said that I’m the type that’ll “act now and think about it later.” So, on Day 5, to turn our travel dilemma around for the best experience possible while in Croatia, we decided to leave Korcula Island to spend the last 3 days in Dubrovnik. In Dubrovnik, we got to spend a lot of time in Old Town, also known as King’s Landing from HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, where we booked a Game of Thrones tour. We got to dine at some of the best restaurants Dubrovnik has to offer including the Panorama Restaurant & Bar, which can only be reached by cable car. At an altitude, the restaurant offers a spectacular view of the Old City and a wider area of amazingly beautiful landscapes. We also enjoyed Dubrovnik nightlife, including partying in a CASTLE … I mean a freaking Castle … also known as Culture Club Revelin; a phenomenal experience in itself! Croatia is certainly a place to put on your bucket list!

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I know that you recently launched your own brand of travel-inspired shirts and accessories. Tell me what inspired you to launch the brand, and how can my readers find Global Jetsetter products? Global Jetsetter became my Instagram handle in 2014 when I began to travel more frequently. I thought it was a cool handle, or as people now say a “dope” handle. In 2017, a friend of ours started a travel and lifestyle line of their own with statement tees. When asked if they could create one for GLOBAL JETSETTER, but they never got around to it. Fast forward to February 2018 with the strong push and genuine encouragement of a very dear friend, supportive family members and my travel community, I took a leap of faith and launched my own brand, Global Jetsetter, for occasional and avid travelers worldwide. Travel is my passion, so the brand aligns with exactly who I’ve become over the past few years. Please visit our online store at www.globaljetsetteronline.com. Stay booked and safe travels to wherever your next journey takes you!

As this amazing interview concluded, I really had chills running down my spine, Donna’s reflection on their trip and the many sights and sounds they experienced certainly was both motivational, inspirational and once in a lifetime.

I am so proud to know this loving couple who have inspired me and hundreds of others to live, travel and see the world while you can. And folks, a Dreamtrip with Donna & Paul was the catalyst for FlightsInStilettos. I love this couple.

Until next time Croatia…

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50 States, My Son and Creating #Lunchbox Chronicles: Raising a Conscious Black Boy in America

 

I am always interested in stories about women who are movers and shakers, who push themselves to achieve success while balancing the demands of life and by all accounts, are indeed trailblazers.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Tai Hall, a mom, multiple business owner, best-selling author of : “#Lunchbox Chronicles: Raising a Conscious Black Boy in America” and an international massage therapist.  If that isn’t enough, she’s also an avid traveler! Personally, I consider Tai the epitome of today’s “go-getter”  and a true “boss”.  So, it’s with excitement that I share a little bit of what I discovered about her during our interview for this blog regarding her love of travel, juggling motherhood and  her businesses.

From her very first trip to Atlanta, GA, to cruising the beautiful islands in the Bahamas, Tai found her “real love” –  which is traveling.  I wanted to know specifically about Tai’s first travel experience and her discovery of her “real love”, and here’s what she said: “My very first trip was to Atlanta about 10 years ago. My best friend relocated to the ATL and we would take turns trekking to and from celebrating birthdays and family events. A close friend of ours invited us on a cruise to the Bahamas a year later and I fell in love with my scuba instructor (lol). He was ALL kinds of fine! We were only docked at Nassau for one night so he and his best friend took me and my best friend around the entire island. We laughed and danced and partied til port call. He and I exchanged contact info via whatsapp and kept in contact. He owned the excursion company Carnival contracted the events for and flew me out at the end of every month for the next six months until I realized I couldn’t handle a long distance relationship. But through that relationship he introduced me to my real true love: traveling. I’ve been hooked ever since. “

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Everyone has that first trip that really sets the tone or creates the yearning for more travel. In Tai’s case, it was her trip to the Bahamas that did it for her! Here’s how she describes her love of the islands of Bahamas: “Bahamian culture was (well still is) so rich and pure. Aside from the tourist attractions,  I fell in love with the minimalistic lifestyle in being happy with the riches of the land; the contentment in family and friends, of music and basic things entitlement robs us of. I ate fruits I had never seen before; tasted beers we could never have in the states. I saw flowers for the first time in person that I grew up seeing as computer screen savers. And the people were so nice! I found myself smiling all of the time-sharing in their love of life with no strings attached. It’s a ‘life high’ that you can only appreciate through experience and exposure.”  After this description of the Bahamas, clearly I should have consulted with Tai first before taking my trips there, I have never tasted fruit  or beer from the Bahamas! But  now I plan to.  How about you?

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As I described earlier, Tai is also a mother of a wonderful son. I am a believer in investing in our children and their interests, therefore Tai’s  fascinating story about her son’s excitement when he learned about all 50 states was nothing short of amazing. Tai actually described what happened when her son learned about the 50 states and how he wanted to explore each and every one of them, here’s  specifically what she said: “My son came home one day from school stoked on a life high because he had just found out that there were 50 states… and he wanted to go see them all. I was taken aback because as a single mom all I was processing was how expensive this was starting to sound lol. He went in his room and offered me his piggy bank to get started. If his selfless heart could give me his last as a token to delve into his dreams… then so could I.  (This is discussed  heavily in her best selling novel: #Lunchbox Chronicles: Raising a Conscious Black Boy in America as it tracks their travels and journey across the country. ) It’s one thing to hear about disparities and cultural differences that people are faced with on a daily basis… but to witness them is a totally different story. To envelop your mind around racism first hand, to experience being treated differently because of the color of your skin, to witness modern-day class-ism and mental bondage in 2018 changes you forever. It’s humbling and refreshing all at the same time, and has also created a platform for me to offer my son a more well-rounded pedigree.”  

As you might imagine, giving your child/children these kinds of life experiences certainly creates well-adjusted, educated, and open-minded children.  Tai describes the influence and impact of providing a “traveling education” on her son like this: “My son is more mature than most kids his age. Maybe not even mature mentally as I will say emotionally. He is extremely understanding and compassionate; empathetic to others. He is kind and loving because of what he has been exposed to. The premise of my book delineates the impact simply moving from the suburbs to the inner city has had on him in expanding his mind to how blessed he is. There are things he has experienced that they haven’t even begun to teach him in school yet but when they get to it he is twice as engaged in the conversations because a lot of it he has lived first hand.” 

I agree with Tai,  what she’s exposing her son to at an early age (creating life lessons and permanent memories) can not be taught within four walls. Understandably, everyone’s life isn’t set up in manner where this can be accomplished, however, for those that are interested in pushing through and carving a path similar to Tai’s and that of her son, here’s some helpful guidance offered by Tai on how to pursue balancing travel, business and motherhood: “You fight for what you believe in; you make time for the things that are important to you. What shopping, drinking, or yoga do for some ‘travel’ does for me. It is my happy place. The ability to get lost in other lands isn’t just a luxury but has become a necessity. Nothing else has the same calming, nourishing, replenishing effect on my mental health like travel does. To step off of a plane — passport in hand… take a deep breath with a new adventure on the horizon; a semi empty camera in tow and a half packed suitcase waiting to be filled with souvenirs and memories? I have to make time for it. I make time to be happy. And my happiness revels in the form of travel. I also take pride in that a lot of people who follow my trips are unable to travel whether its due to economic constraints or physical ones. So e-vite them on my journeys and vicariously live for them. When something means THAT much to you, as well as other around you? You make time to make it happen.

The “how”: When my son is in school I try to schedule my trips on Fri-Mon. I’ll wake him before I leave, leave breakfast in the microwave, and preschedule his über to take him to school. I watch the über’s commute as I board my flight, and confirm with the school his attendance before the flight takes off (or have my parents call the school if I’m already in the air). I’ve also had my neighbor take my son to school for me. My parents live so far from us now they can rarely take him. He catches the public bus home and his aunt or his dad will pick him up from the house when he gets settled; he’ll spend the weekend with them until I get back. On trips when I am unable to schedule it around a weekend,  I have someone stay at my home and take care of him while I’m gone whether it’s a family member, a  trusted friend, or his dad has come and stayed in the guest bedroom while I’m gone. As for work and client –  I actually get a lot of last-minute overseas contracts and have to move client appointments around to accommodate them. There are always understanding. And in moments of last minute travel for pleasure— whether a great deal pops up that I want to take advantage of or I’m mentally drained and need to get away, I move commitments around to make it happen. Those that understand the last minute shifts —  Great! And those that don’t? Great. Either way I’m still going.  I would say start locally abroad in places that would heighten the amount of exposure and experiences but minimize the planning and expenses such as the Bahamas, the USVI, Puerto Rico, Guam, Alaska, or Hawaii as none of these places require a passport (that process can take some time, time that could be better spent traveling) — they get to hop on a plane for the first time as well. Rent a car upon arriving at your destination which gives you control over their exposure instead of being stuck at a resort. Use trip advisor and yell to plan out the best landmarks to visit. Use  Groupon or airBnB to book hotels and save a coin or two. And bring your children in on the conversation! Tell them what the travel destination options are and charge them to research each place; write a book report on each place and ask them which one they would like to go to. My son owes me a book report for every state we travel to; that’s my payment in exchange for the trip. Once the children choose the destination, assign them to choose one excursion, event, museum, etc. each day to venture to. It starts teaching them to think for themselves, explore their likes and dislikes, how to plan! So many life lessons that they will use over and over again for the rest of their lives are acquired through travel. Raising a child doesn’t come with a cookie cutter recipe of what to do. If the goal is to raise happy, smart, healthy children, including travel helps you to creatively cultivate all of those ideals, vesseling knowledge and culture all at the same time.” 

I learned a lot from this portion of my interview with Tai. I truly had no idea that the desire for travel could be likened to the desire one has to shop or dine out frequently;  but it makes sense. I also learned how strongly travel is a part of who Tai is and there’s nothing that will change that. She’s strategically designed her life and practices around making a way to travel — that is pure dedication.  I also learned how Tai’s love of travel is woven into her parenting style. She uses the many components of traveling (planning and executing of plans) to create life managment lessons for her son.   Tai has found that “thing” in life that makes her more than happy – so much so that she’s shared this lifestyle with her child.  It’s important for YOU reading this article to discover what it is in life that enables you to feel fulfilled and like you’re living your best life. It may not be travel for you, like it was for Tai — and that’s okay. Just discover what it is, without comparison to the life of another and indeed live your life out loud — just as Tai has managed to successfully do.

Tai Hall is also a successful international massage therapist and a sought after, successful author of the popular:  “#Lunchbox Chronicles: Raising a Conscious Black Boy in America” you can learn more about Ms. Hall and her novel by visiting her website at: http://thelunchboxchronicles.com.

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What My Mother Means To Me…3 Generations

For Mother’s Day, I asked my mother and daughter to share with me, what their mother means to them. I also did some reflecting and included my thoughts on what my mother means to me also. Each narrative was personally written by the responder. Sometimes it’s not about a gift, it is about expressing, telling, and demonstrating your love for your mother and being able to articulate just how much she means to you. Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Matriarch – Ms. Carroll
“Sometimes when I look in the mirror and see the ever-increasing tiny brown moles growing on my face, I wonder, “did I get these moles from her? At other times I wonder if I inherited my large almost hazel eyes from her…I really miss my mother…but how do you miss someone that you ‘ve never seen before…never heard her voice before, or smelled her perfume or ate her cooking……before? I’ve lived without knowing who my birth mother is all my life, so actually becoming a mother was an amazing experience for me. God always has a way of making up for what’s missing in our lives. Not only did I become a mother, but God has given me 3 surrogate mothers in my life. One has passed away now some 30 years ago, but the other 2 are still with me and I treasure every moment that I get to spend with them when I can. No one will truly ever take the place of my precious birth mother, whoever she is, or was, but I am very grateful to be a mother, grandmother and Godmother. The one thing I don’t have to wonder about is being loved! God saw to that!!”

~ Ms. Carroll

 

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The Daughter – Mrs. Gray (Ms. Carroll’s daughter)
“When I think of my mother, I can remember when it was just her and I and she worked caring for other families’ children while I was in daycare – this was a necessary sacrifice as she was a single mother intent on keeping me in her care and close by. When I was little I’d go to work with her and experience a little bit of her parenting style — which was different as she had more resources at work. I remember the tuna melts tasted so much better at her job because her families ate albacore tuna and had better cheese (LOL). As time went on, my mother continued to make sacrifices for me, often catching the bus from Gaithersburg, MD to SE, DC to visit me because she nor I owned a vehicle at the time, but she wanted to see me and spend time with me. I looked forward to those visits. My mother is one of the strongest and most resilient people that I know. I have watched her experience and endure a number of things that would have completely broken the average woman, yet she has persevered and has kept her head high. She has an amazing capacity to forgive. I have seen her hold on to friendships and family members that I would have been cut off and (still will) as I don’t have the heart that she does. But I’m hoping that in time – I will. My mother is an excellent listener and has provided an immeasurable number of hours listening to her friends and providing much needed emotional support.  My mother gives 100% to what she chooses to do and what she’s asked to do – hence why she’s called upon to lead committees and ministries all of the time. My mother is a caring, supportive and doting grandmother to her only grandchildren. I will never have any more children – so these two extensions of me are it! I adore and worship the ground my mother walks on, and both Ju and I are waiting for the magical age to come so that she can stay with us and be spoiled. That’s only if she doesn’t remarry ( then that will be his job LOL). Once my mother understood me better and hence loved and accepted my spouse, Ju, it was the most pivotal moment in our lives. Her love for me prevailed and her desire to see me live happily ever after — has resulted in me living happily ever after. I admire everything about her and rely on her wisdom, guidance, and acceptance. My mother means EVERYTHING to me. I love you.

~ Mrs. Gray

 

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The Granddaughter – Ms. Gray (Mrs. Gray’s daughter and Ms. Carroll’s Granddaughter)
“A mother is caring. A mother is gentle. A mother is patient. A mother is the most loving, and the most supportive. A mother always knows best. A mother like mine is everything and more. She’s dedicated, hardworking, independent, beautiful, intelligent, insightful and everything else. It’s an honor being the daughter to someone like her. She listens, she takes care of the house, she provides to every need. She always makes herself available when she’s needed. I love her smile, I love her laughter. I love when she’s happy which is usually all the time. She is all around the perfect woman and far too good of a mother. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve her. I have friends who wish they had a mother like mine. They all can see how great of a mother she is. Those friends also remind me of how grateful I am to have a mother so caring & involved. Sometimes I may take her for granted but I never want her to believe I don’t appreciate her. I literally could not ask for a mother any better. She has done no wrong as my mom. She made sure my brother and I were always straight. She pushed us both to be the best we could be. She pushed us to our potential. If it weren’t for her, I’m sure my brother and I would not have made it this far and we wouldn’t be this successful! Every piece of thanks goes to her & Julie. The best set of parents I could ever ask for.

My mom has always been there for me every step of the way with everything. I know if no one has my back, she does. I aspire to be the type of woman she is and I hope I can be half the mother she is to my future kids one day! I love her sooo much! She’s done nothing but steered her children in the right direction and pushed us forward. And for that, I thank you! Thank you for birthing me!! I’m truly the lucky one. There is not one thing I wish she did, because she has literally done it all. The only thing I can think of is that one time when I was younger and wanted a barbie car. LOL. but I got a real car instead when I became of age. love you, mom!

A queen she is. “

 
~ Ms. Gray

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We Love Our Customers At FlightsInStilettos!

Loyal customers are the heartbeat of any business! Embrace this concept and you will always be in business! Cheers to my supportive customers and I can’t wait to serve my new customers in the future!

“There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.” – Shep Hyken

Love,

Kinyatta

CEO & Creator, FlightsInStilettos, LLC

 

 

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Traveling to Dubai…A Family Affair

Dubai is one of those glamorous travel destinations that has made it on many people’s bucket lists, and that’s where it remains. So, I was intrigued when I learned that this family had taken a dream trip to Dubai. There won’t be any Giant Food birthday cakes with this bunch!

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Briana and Portia, (who I interviewed for this blog) and family traveled to Dubai and Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, which made it really difficult to explore; but that didn’t stop them from making the best out of their travel experience. Take note, check the calendar and be sure to schedule your travel around the religious holidays, unless of course, you are traveling specifically for that reason.

Briana and Portia travel at least 2-3 times per year, which makes them avid travelers! Their travel style is casual and they’re open to dressing like the natives.

This couple selected this destination because it was on their bucket list and because they are part of a popular travel club. As Dreamtrip members, this trip was much more achievable and affordable. Although, this family knew it was Ramadan, traveling to Dubai was going to be accomplished because the primary honoree was turning 70 and what better way to ring in the 70s then to do it big in Dubai!

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While there, the family enjoyed a number of tourist attractions, but what stood out the most was the Mall in Dubai. When in the mall you ascend to the top of the Burj Khalifa and from there you can practically see the entire city. On top of that, there’s a light show like nothing you have ever seen before – and it’s advised that you take in the light show at night in order to see it in all its splendor.

According to Portia and Briana going out to the dunes and feasting afterward was a memorable experience and the food was exceptional.

If you’re planning to go to Dubai, they highly recommend that you visit the Mosque in Abu Dhabi as this highly religious landmark is truly a beautiful sight to see.

Traveling to Dubai is one thing, but when you can take this trip of a lifetime with your family to celebrate a milestone occasion, the accomplishment is that much richer, meaningful and memorable.

It was a pleasure learning about their family dream trip.

Until next time Dubai…

 

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7 Essential “Rules” for Glamorous Travel By FlightsInStilettos

#1 Start packing 6-months in advance.
This is fully necessary if you expect to remember everything that you need in order to be the center of attention while on vacation. It takes time to order all of your shoes, your wardrobe and accessories. You need time to plan the perfect low maintenance  – yet glam hairstyles for your vacation. For many of us, this involves hair pieces and wigs. You’ll need time to order your FlightsInStilettos accessories or glam t-shirts from flightsinstilettos.com. When you’re a glam-traveler the more lead time for packing the better!

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#2 Use a separate suitcase for EVERYTHING.
It doesn’t matter that you’re packing 5 suitcases for a weekend trip. What does matter is that you have everything that you need while on your trip – because the worst thing that can happen is that you realize you packed the silver shoes, but you wanted the gold shoes! So pack until you’re content that every possible wardrobe and shoe combination/ option is available to you on your trip. In this case more is better!

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#3 Bring ALL of your makeup.
This doesn’t need any further explanation, either you’re glam and you get it or not.

#4 Oversee the wardrobe, shoes and accessories selections of your spouse or travel companion.
Your spouse or traveling companion’s wardrobe, shoes and accessories must compliment yours. Your travel companion can’t possibly walk around with beat-up sneakers, “DAD” jeans cut into shorts, and an old beat-up baseball cap just because you’re on vacation.  And your female bestie can’t be seen wearing her gym clothes and house slippers! Oversee this process to ensure that your looks are complimentary of each other and that you two dazzle and spin heads together! Glam. Glam. Glam.

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#5 Hit the gym religiously before your vacation.
Sure, you should be eating right and exercising anyway, but if you’re not – OK – get your hips in the gym regularly for 3 months prior to your vacation. It’s all about the pics. Do you really want to look back at your vacation pics and wish that you would have dedicated a little more time to building a better beach body? Heck, after the trip is over, resume your normal habits – but do what you have to do for the pics!!! This is crucial.

#6 Be a true friend and inspect your girls’ luggage before traveling.
I know, it’s hard to not want the spotlight for yourself, but if you’re doing a girls’  trip – it’s best that all of the girls look like they are of the same “squad”. It’s awful looking at pictures of girls’ trips and there’s that one friend in the pic and everyone is wondering why no one told her the truth.

#7 All About the Pics.
Whether it’s your spouse, your best friend or whomever, let them know upfront that 90% of THEIR vacation will be spent taking pictures of you. This is a basic human need and fundamental requirement that must be clarified when the vacation plans are discussed.

 

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These rules are not meant to be taken seriously and are meant to be funny, unless of course, you’re a lot like me!

See you on a FlightInStilettos~

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Nothing Could Go Wrong In Hong Kong – Traveling With Alisha!

I’ve known Alisha for at least 10 years – we have worked together for most of those years. I found out very early in our friendship that she enjoyed traveling.

Back then I knew the kinds of trips I had in mind when people in my inner circled discussed traveling. By and large, the primary travel destinations of people (in my circle 10 years ago) consisted of Miami, Las Vegas, NY,  Atlantic City and Los Angeles.

So, one day, Alisha and I were chopping it up and we started to talk about her recent trip. Keep in mind, I wasn’t thinking about traveling globally 10 years ago – so I never considered the fact that others in my age range were, in fact, traveling globally.

I had already imagined where Alisha probably went for her “vacation”. So, I eagerly waited to hear all about her trip to Myrtle Beach!! But guess what, Alisha fixed her lips to tell me about her exotic 1 or 2-week vacation to Greece! In my mind, I was like “whaaaaattttt????” Greece was like a honeymoon vacation – surely not where young women would travel. So, after I secretly regained my composure, I played it cool, and was like, yeah — of course she went to Greece! Silly me…

It was in that moment, that I was reintroduced to Alisha, the avid traveler.

From that day to the present, I have shared that story with many people. And I always describe Alisha to people this way — ” remember the lady from my job who was planning to tell me about her trip and I assumed she was going to tell me about Myrtle Beach – when actually she traveled to Greece?” It’s a classic story.

Alisha traveled frequently to exotic destinations overseas. And since back then I was still afraid of long-distance flights, she agreed to also bring me back my beloved postcards. So between Donna’s postcards (which I hung up on my wall at work) and doing the same with Alisha’s postcards, it gave the illusion that I was the avid traveler! LOL

Fast forward to the present, Alisha traveled to Hong Kong. Yes, Hong Kong. 10 -15 years later, I’m still in awe of her travel destinations.

While in Hong Kong, Alisha visited the Big Buddha and the Tai O Fishing Village which she says is a “must see” attraction. It requires riding the big lift to get there.

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Her favorite meal was a cheap bowl of noodle soup from a food stand. I love a good noodle soup so I would have been in heaven.

Part of being an avid traveler means that you’re open to accepting different cultural experiences — even the food. I have always been impressed with how Alisha never hesitated to try something completely undesired by the western palette.

Alisha’s travel style is spontaneous and experimental — again being an avid traveler, she’s very open to experiencing life and traditions of the local culture.

Without a doubt, Alisha will continue to satisfy her appetite for global travel and one day soon, I will accept her invitation.

Until next time Hong Kong…

 

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The Big Sister I Never Had – Victoria Dixon

It’s funny when you’re a child, a 10-15 year age difference is significant. Somehow, when you become adults not so much. That’s the case with my cousin Victoria.

Growing up, I was always fond of my cousin Victoria – just too young to roll with her LOL!  She traveled  in the fast line, was popular and knew many people in the DMV.  A socialite then and now! I remember hoping I’d grow up and be shaped just like her.

Our lives went in separate directions; intertwining at certain intervals – mainly family gatherings. Within the last 20 years, age was no longer a factor, I was an adult and had more in common with my cousin since I too was a mother  and had been through some things in life – but we both were similar in the sense that while we stayed in touch with our grandmother mainly,  we made appearances at key family events annually – only.

Over the years, my cousin and I grew close. Real close.  Mostly because she made it a point to reach out to me weekly, for YEARS. I may receive a text at 6am, and when I’d get that text, I knew it was either Victoria or my mom. Victoria would always remember some of my friends she may have met along the way and she’d always ask — “so how’s so & so?”  And I’d always laugh, because she may have been referring to a buddy of mine she met one time years ago that I may or may not even speak to anymore – but she would always show interest and concern about that person and would always ask about them.  I TOO have that same caring spirit. Once I meet you and I like you – I will always inquire about your well-being.  Yup — years later! LOL.

I have shared many things with my cousin over the years and she with me. I trust her wholeheartedly.  My cousin has a heart of gold and when I spend time with her, she reminds me a lot of myself, because I possess that same sweet spirit. And what I have also learned is that we both are on the receiving end a lot of unfair judgment. People often form an opinion of the kind of person they think that we are – based on our outer appearance –  when in reality, we are two of the most authentic kind-hearted and polite individuals you’d ever meet.

Actually, the more time that I spend with all of my aunts and family, I see that kindness and authenticity runs in the blood.

My cousin really has been my rock (she doesn’t realize this) she has supported me and has been there for me like no other.  Just recently, if the “necessary” became necessary, she would have thrown those hands up to defend me. But we divas really try not to go there — it’s bad for the stilettos. But don’t get it twisted by any means.

A recent memory of my cousin was at her last birthday party. I was sooooo excited to be there to support her on her special day. And my goodness, I had such a great time with her squad. But more importantly, I observed my cousin taking great care in the planning of her own party.  She wanted every single detail to be perfect — not for her, but for her guests.  She wanted her guests to be fed the best food, the best cake and she made swag bags, and created a glamorous atmosphere – truly all for her guests. When she felt satisfied that her guests would have a great experience, she then got dressed and enjoyed her party. It was the most selfless act I have witnessed. And my heart grew even fonder.

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Victoria at her last birthday party! Diva!

And last, my cousin came through for me in a HUGE way – in an effort to help support the visibility of my new travel-inspired brand FlightsInStilettos. Again, such a selfless act and she went out of her way, because she just wanted me to be happy. For that act, I will be eternally grateful. Family supports family.

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Victoria doing what she loves – taking pictures of me, Julie and Always Ask Asia

 

Of course, there have been those times when we haven’t seen eye to eye – but not many. My cousin called and made me do something that really I should have done without her making me feel guilty. But she was right and I was glad I went to visit a family member when I did. I sent her the picture as proof and life was good again between her and I. It killed me to think she may have been upset with me and I wanted to make it right.

For these reasons and 40+ years of additional reasons, Vicky is really the big sister I never had. She’s my cousin, but I love her like a sister. I dedicate this to you big sister-cousin! If you are blessed to have this woman in your life, you really have a true gem on your side.

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Victoria and I at her birthday party
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Cousins, Victoria and Shaunita (Shaunita and those faces she makes cracks me up) LOL
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Victoria – there for me on my wedding day!
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Spring Fling in Colorado – Emily & Domo’s 1st Trip!

It brings me so much joy to write about Domo & Emily’s spring trip to Colorado. Domo is my only son, and his 1st trip (as an adult) is heartwarming as he’s creating goals and crushing them. He has always had an adventurous spirit, so I know full well, that this is just the beginning of he and Emily building their travel memories together. Emily, Domo’s college sweetheart is beautiful and equally accomplished. Domo has shared with me that her brain and intellect are her most attractive features. He’s focused on the right things. They met on campus at Towson University. Emily sat with us, as he graduated with his degree in 2017.

They planned this trip to Denver, CO and I remember how they were counting down the weeks and hours leading up to their trip. Both of them were in need of a mini-vacation.

During the interview, I asked Emily & Domo to their summarize their experience in Denver, and this is what they said: ” Neither of us had traveled to the West coast before this trip and weren’t initially sure how to best experience the city of Denver. We chose an Airbnb because we had heard a few good recommendations from friends that had experience with them. For us, this turned out to be an ideal option because we were able to enjoy our own space and the location was only a short walk to the historic art district that led into downtown Denver. We chose to experience the trip more similarly to how the locals would – which gave us the chance to really explore on our own and get to know the community. The overall atmosphere of the city was very casual and more laid back than the hustle and bustle of a city like Washington D.C., despite being so large. It’s a wonderful place to experience a variety of interests from the arts to nature and we more than enjoyed our first time there!

Having never visited CO, but very interested in doing so, I was curious about the must-see tourist attractions that they discovered, and this is what they said: “Since it was our first time together on an out of state trip and in Colorado, Domo and I did a good amount of research to figure out which places were must-sees and luckily we were able to find a wide variety of things to enjoy! Everything from the mountains to downtown Denver was much more close by than we thought so it wasn’t difficult to accomplish everything we set out to do. Our top two must-sees, particularly in the city of Denver, were 16th street mall and Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. The 16th street mall is an outdoor pedestrian mall that runs about 1.5 miles and has a few hundred stores and restaurants to explore, very family friendly but also a great location for nightlife or for those who want to shop! For those who are outdoorsy and interested in wildlife or scenic places, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is a perfect attraction. The park’s amphitheater is a world-famous open-air concert venue sitting at around 6,450 feet above sea level, surrounded by 868 acres of natural red sandstone formations with various hiking trails. We were fortunate enough to visit after it had just snowed so throughout our hike on the Trading Post Trail we were able to see beautiful views of the foothills dusted with snow and quite a few times had to just stop in awe and do 360 turns to really take in and admire the sights.

Are you ready to book your trip to CO yet? This overview of the must-sees that they researched has definitely sparked my interest in traveling to this jewel of a state.

Now, if you follow my blog, you know that I LOVE to hear about my travelers’ favorite meals while on travel. This was their response to my question regarding their favorite meal: “While we were visiting, everyone we met was so friendly and had great recommendations for food and attractions. However, simply through exploring the neighborhood we were in, we came across a locally owned cafe called “Under the Umbrella” down the street from where we were staying and decided to stop for breakfast. For coffee or tea lovers, I would recommend the Oregon chai latte paired with one of their amazing pastries like the lemon bar or raspberry muffin. For breakfast, Dom tried their green chili and thought it was fantastic for those who like their food a little heat. This spot was a go-to for locals and if we ever return, we would definitely stop by there again!” So there you have it – “Under the Umbrella” and Oregon Chai Latte made their “favorite” list!

I am so completely thrilled that their plans were executed flawlessly and they experienced CO in the manner that they saw fit – thus building their own memories, together. They both bring me joy.

Until next time Colorado…

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Downtown Denver 
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Denver Botanic Gardens
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Emily & Domo in Downtown Denver 
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Red Rocks Park 

 

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Microblading – My Answer For PERFECT Eyebrows

For years I tried to achieve the perfect eyebrows. Some days I’d win and some days I’d lose. Throughout this battle, what was consistent was that I was sick and tired of the work required daily to achieve perfect eyebrows. And leaving the house without perfect eyebrows was never an option. Eyebrows are on a level of their own. Grooming, sculpting and maintaining them is a must – well, if you’re like me and care about your appearance. I have tried it all, waxing, threading and plucking. Within the last year, a combo of waxing, plucking and then filling them in with MAC powder or eyebrow pencil was the norm. But like I said, I was getting tired of this routine.  Here’s a picture of my eyebrows in their natural state (meaning no makeup enhancement or major sculpting). The following picture shows my eyebrows with partial waxing, plucking and filling in with MAC eyebrow pencil. It must have been a good day since I put my face on full blast with this selfie! LOL.

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My eyebrows in their natural state
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My eyebrows with partial waxing and plucking and eyebrow pencil for filling in and shaping

I decided I was ready for microblading. If you’re not familiar with microblading, here’s what it is: Microblading, also known by a variety of names such as embroidery, microstroking, feather touch and hair like strokes, is a form of semi-Permanent Makeup that provides a means to partially or fully camouflage missing eyebrow hair with the appearance of simulated hair using fine deposits of cosmetic tattoo pigments.

After watching two close friends achieve near perfect eyebrows through microblading, I decided it was time for me to make a change.  Eyebrows are 90% of your face and hence your selfie — jacked up eyebrows can really alter an otherwise very beautiful face.

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Please jot this down and act accordingly. ~ Management

So, after further research, I decided to move forward on my desire to achieve perfect eyebrows.

The day had finally come, and I was completely and understandably nervous. This will be a tattoo on my face and the results could cause my face to look permanently angry or permanently surprised. Or they could come out just perfect!

I arrived 15 mins early for my appointment to get a good sense of who’s coming and going and more importantly if they were leaving happy.

I had to fill out forms similar to forms you’d fill out at an initial doctor’s appointment. I was looking at the clock and it was almost time for my procedure. Suddenly a super sweet lady called my name, and the moment I had been waiting for was about to happen.

The specialist went over the forms I had completed briefly. Followed by taking a series of “before” pictures. Next, using something similar to a sharpie and other measuring tools — her artistry began to occur. She pulled her chair up super close in between my legs and informed me she’d be in my personal space. For the next 10 mins, she worked on creating the perfect brow shape – stopping and asking me to check it out. After asking for minor tweaks here and there — the template was ready, I was about to have perfect eyebrows! Before she began, I asked her how bad it would hurt – she said not that bad, but it takes less than 10 mins per eyebrow. That was somewhat comforting. I laid back on the special bed/table so that she could begin. She gave me a stress ball to squeeze. The process began, and for the first 30 seconds, it was tolerable. And then – either my brain started to process that little blades were cutting into my eyebrow or I began to panic, whatever the case – a few tears streamed down my face, and I squeezed the stress ball.

I knew it was too late to change my mind. Then I started to think that I didn’t care – I wanted it to stop. At that moment, eyebrow 1 was complete. It was time for eyebrow 2. I started to think about everything I could to not focus on the procedure.  I started to wonder how I should have saved all of my Fendi from back in the day since it’s hot now, and why I can never find cute black leggings…truly random stuff! LOL. I clinched the stress ball again, and then eyebrow 2 was complete. I had to relax for a good 10 mins after the procedure. Then it was time for more pics – this time the “after” pics. Then it was time for me to see my eyebrows and it was love at first sight! I had finally achieved the perfect eyebrows.

The appointment wrapped up by me being provided with aftercare instructions and what I loved most is that the aftercare only involved not getting my brows wet for a week and returning in 4 weeks. Here’s my pic one-day after undergoing microblading. I am truly a happy camper! This will last anywhere from 1-3 YEARS!!!

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Here are my results one-day after microblading. Love at first sight!

So, if you’re trying to decide on this procedure, I hope that you’ll find this information helpful.  It was worth it. It will save me time in the morning and frustration.

The cost will run you anywhere between $600-$800.

Please, please do your research, and make sure that you’re selecting someone with the experience, training, and credentials required to perform the procedure. Afterall, it is YOUR face!