Featured, Travel, Travel Tips

How To Experience Cuba Part 2: Join a Group

December 12, 2016

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?

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Featured, Interviews, Travel, Travel Tips

How to Experience Cuba Part 1: Plan Your Own Getaway

December 12, 2016

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”?

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Travel Tips

Free Holiday Uber Rides from American Express

November 18, 2016

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!

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Why I’m Not Leaving America and Neither Should You

November 14, 2016

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…..

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How Traveling Has Made me Appreciate a Female President

November 4, 2016

For a long time I didn’t think a female president was a big deal. While New York yellow cabs have reminded me of my Blackness on a regular basis, my womanhood hasn’t been a noticeable burden in my life. For years I didn’t see what the fuss was about with the “glass ceiling” people referenced in corporate America. Especially since I’d managed to climb the ladder in an industry where women make up single digit percentages of leadership.

So unlike 2008, when my crew of friends lost our collective shit in my friend’s apartment on election night with tears and screaming from our 9th floor window, when rumors started to circulate that Hillary Clinton would run (and win), my response was “meh” at best.

However, that all changed when I traveled to India last year, and experienced what it’s like to feel completely inferior and powerless because of my gender.

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Travel, Videos

VIDEO: Stellenbosch Wine Tour in South Africa

October 14, 2016

Video is my latest obsession! While I still love taking pictures (and actually plan to take a photography class soon), video has a way of transporting you back to moments we often forget about. In this video I share a few of these moments from our amazing trip to Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa.

Haven’t read about it yet? Check out the full story here.

If you’re headed there for Essence in Durban, or need another taste of Summer (October-February in South Africa!), definitely include a trip to this beautiful region in your itinerary!

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