Featured, Reviews, Travel, Travel Tips

9 Places To Eat While Traveling Abroad

January 5, 2017
9placestoeat_cover

Happy New Year guys! I’d start off by saying 2016 was a great year, but instead I’ll keep it real. After a year where we lost Prince, gained Trump, and ended with the passing of Mariah Carey’s career, we’ve all been forced to turn to our happy place to find peace. My happy place is elbows deep in a trough of oxtail. Curry goat is my spirit animal, and nothing cures a bad day more than an ignorant-sized bucket of chicken and biscuits.

Indulging in a delicious meal brings me so much joy! So to spread the love, I’ve decided kick off 2017 by sharing this list of some of my favorite dishes that will have your belly singing hallelujah on your next trip.

Paella at Paladar Chef Ivan Justo Havana Cuba

1. HAVANA, CUBA: Paladar Ivan Chef Justo

The paella at Ivan Chef Justo was by far the best I’ve ever had. Which is surprising, considering much of the food I ate in Havana wasn’t impressive at all. With the exception of one or two places, most meals were decent, but certainly nothing to write home about. But this paella? Bay Bay. Our group literally scraped this huge pan down to the bottom, shamelessly fighting for the last few grains of rice. Home training be damned.

Continue Reading…

Featured, Interviews, Travel, Travel Tips

How to Experience Cuba Part 3: Book With a Travel Agent

December 20, 2016
cuba_stg

While it’s become much easier to get to Havana these days, that wasn’t the case when I went in September 2015. And even if it was easy, I simply did not (and rarely have) the time to plan out all of the logistics a trip, let alone one with confusing travel requirements, limited access to U.S. Dollars, and spotty internet service.

For those of you with limited time to deal with the planning and paperwork, or aren’t about that “travel with 50 strangers” life,  I suggest working with a travel agent to handle everything for you! I booked with Gai Spann, owner of Spanning The Globe Tours, who planned every single detail of my trip, and tailored the experience so that I could see more of the Afro-Cuban side of the culture. I caught up with Gai to chat about the benefits of planning your Cuba trip with a travel professional.

Gai, since our Cuba trip was 3 days after CURLFEST, I was literally sleepwalking my way to the airport. I didn’t even know if I had a visa. But in true Olivia Pope fashion, I got to check-in and everything was handled! How long have you been planning trips for people?

Continue Reading…

Featured, Travel, Travel Tips

How To Experience Cuba Part 2: Join a Group

December 12, 2016
uital_cuba2

So ya’ll know group trips are my favorite way to travel. My post about How to Plan a Girls Getaway is my most popular post of all time, so that must mean a lot of you like jet-setting with your girls too! When my crew isn’t heading to a place I want to visit, I usually look for groups trips with cool folks already going, throw it out there to a few ride-or-die travel homies, and #bookdatish immediately.

With a little help from Madame Google, I found an upscale travel group called Up in the Air Life  that visited Cuba in 2016, and plans to return next year. Over the holiday break I caught up with founder Claire Soares to see what it’s like traveling to Cuba with her company.

Claire. Girl. There are currently 14,790 people in the Up in the Air Life Facebook group. The sheer numbers can turn off introverts who can’t deal with all of those people. How do you take the 20 questions, 99 problems, and everything that goes down in the DM to create a smaller, cohesive experience for so many people?

Our trips that we curate typically host only 15-20 people. Only our “once in a lifetime” trips like Egypt and our Annual Meetup are larger trips with over 50 people. Our trips are unique in that the curators have gone to the specific destination, and 90% of the itinerary has been tested out and tweaked to meet our standards. We work with locals on the ground to ensure we have the latest and greatest across the board, and tweak as necessary to give customers the best bang for their buck.

What does “upscale travel” look like in Cuba? If I roll with ya’ll are we gonna be sipping Moët at daily cocktail parties on a yacht off the coast of Havana? Eating strawberries covered in edible gold, imported from a remote village in Heaven? Or did I take it too far there?

Continue Reading…

Featured, Interviews, Travel, Travel Tips

How to Experience Cuba Part 1: Plan Your Own Getaway

December 12, 2016
13582000_845467774433_6119742290635495183_o

In case you haven’t heard, Cuba left the gate open, and now errrrrybody and their momma, and their homegirl’s 98 line sisters, and cousin Rae Rae ‘nem are all trying to get in. Now that it’s so much easier to visit, attractive deals are popping up all over the place. The airlines are totally on board, and some of these round-trip fares are so low I honestly thought it was a setup, and they’re actually flying us all back to Africa. #becauseTrump

But alas, the fares are real, and my DMs have been on fire with questions from everyone who has booked! So I spoke with some folks who’ve been recently to show how to experience Havana in 3 different ways: 1) Plan your own trip 2) Join a group or 3) Use a travel agent.

Since most of you are planning your own, I spoke with a friend who’s been twice and planned everything himself! Richard Cantave is a humanitarian, champion of Haiti, and amazing human with a huge heart for helping people. He’s visited 50 countries and counting, and whether it’s a mission trip or a getaway with friends, he’s been fortunate to see more of the world than many see in a lifetime!

Richard, between your full time job and all of your humanitarian work, you are always on a plane! What made you add Cuba on top of all these other trips?

Cuba has always been one of those places I’ve dreamed about. I’ve always wanted to “step back into time,” and see the beautiful old cars parading down the Malecon. Most importantly, being Haitian, it was almost a duty to pay our Cuban brothers a visit at home since Cuba has long been an important ally of Haiti, sending hundreds of doctors to Haiti to help throughout all the hardships we have endured. I owed it to the Cuban people as a token of appreciation. There was no other country I wanted to visit more than Cuba, and now that I did, I can’t stay away for too long as I’m getting ready for my 3rd trip there.

So you knew this question was coming (sorry). What’s up with the 12 travel categories? Do they hem you up like Debo at customs with some crazy pop quiz on your “Educational Activities”?

Continue Reading…

Travel Tips

Free Holiday Uber Rides from American Express

November 18, 2016
uber_amex_brooklyntraveladdict

Taking a taxi to the airport during the holiday rush can require prayer, meditation, alcohol, or some combination of all three to make it to your destination without going off on a stranger. While booking a trip is pretty easy, the actual ride itself is where the shenanigans begin. There’s usually 2 scenarios:

  1. You call an Uber X to avoid stops, and give yourself extra travel time. But since everyone leaves town on the same days for Thanksgiving, traffic is insane. You make the flight (barely), but your ride ends up taking twice as long and costing double what you expected. When that receipt hits your inbox you soon realize that you’ll be walking home when you get back.
  2. You call an Uber Pool to save money, and the driver stops by the North Pole on the way. Then you get there and this chick doesn’t come out of her igloo within 2 minutes, so the driver leaves. You clearly miss your flight, and are now have some decisions to make. Because a same-day fare difference during the holidays could basically buy you new family.

If either of those were remotely familiar, and your wallet hurts just thinking about the next 2 months, I have some good news! American Express is offering free rides from select airports between now and December 31!

Continue Reading…

Musings

Why I’m Not Leaving America and Neither Should You

November 14, 2016
screen_shot_2015-10-15_at_14-03-34-3984f19dd0ba7232a0c1c62095556ca9-1

It used to be funny. You know, that crazy joke about all the places we were moving to if Trump was elected? It was so farfetched that every week I saw a new post with someone threatening to throw up the deuces and ride this thing out in Canada. Or even better, take the advice of many of his supporters, and head back to Africa.

Well last Tuesday, that farfetched fear of a Trump presidency became a reality right before our eyes. It was like the news was reporting in slow motion, as state after state after state after…. wait, Florida? Okay well we can lose them, but if we win Ohio we can……Noooooooo!!! Not Ohio too…okay well…

*does the math*

*carries the one*

This can’t be happening…..

Continue Reading…