Travel, Experience, Learn and Grow

“To travel is to learn and grow as an individual”

For all travel enthusiasts around the world, if you are looking for ways to start & grow your business, idea and fund your future travels, this message is for you.

ConnectLearn & Grow with others from around the world.

Traveling has saved me as a person. I was not a good student growing up. At school, I was picked as the most likely NOT to succeed. I never took my future seriously. I was going down the path of not graduating. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to travel my last couple of years in high school and learn about different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles that changed my whole perspective.

I finally had a purpose of wanting to work hard and continue learning about other cultures outside of my own. I found a love for learning, achieving, and setting goals. I took that passion through my undergrad and postgrad studies in the States and Abroad. My studies led me to connect with others from around the world and start a career out of what I loved doing most, TRAVELINGsharing, and curating content.

Through my education, I was able to meet individuals from all over the world, who became more than just friends but more like family. Through my travels, I was able to create my dream career. NO, it was never easy, nor will any career be, but it has been a learning adventure that I am excited to share.

The Experience

Through a very similar expereince, I have created an educational platform where travel enthusiats can build relationships with people from around the world while gaining the skills-sets and knowledge needed to start an online business venture.

Ready to learn how to build a business and about other cultures? Get prepared for a business venture and become more culturally competent for your future travels! 

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The Story Behind the Sustainable fashion Coat | From waste to treasure

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Travel Insider | A jounrey in a bottle, Oslo, Norway
FT: Fashion Designer By Van Der Crussen


As an avid traveler and online journalist, I rely on social media to share my travels and content with others. Using social media platforms has opened up many new friendships, ideas, and opportunities for me. What we thought would be impossible before, seems to be more than possible with a simple comment, like, or follow to someone we connect with or look up to. The digital space has broken barriers that have brought people around the world closer and bring creatives to light.

It all started with a follow from fashion designer, Mimmi Van Der Crussen. After checking out her page on Instagram I noticed that her brand had much more than just a vision behind its story. Since I was in the area, I decided to send her a quick message regarding meeting her in person to get to know more about her and her journey. Little did I know, I would get such a rapid response from her and get the chance to take part in a behind the scenes photoshoot campaign for her new coat collection.

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Mimmi Van Der Crussen is the face behind the sustainable fashion clothing line named after herself, By Van Der Crussen (pronounced
By-Fan-Der-Krusen). To say her coat collection is an inspiration is an understatement. When I arrived at the location of the photoshoot I really didn’t know what to expect. We had only exchanged a brief conversation over Direct Messaging on Instagram and before you know it, I was meeting her in person, trying on her coats and getting a chance to be part of her journey.

Once I arrived at the photo shoot location, Mimmi greeted me with such a warm hug and a big smile from ear to ear, she was happy to see there were so many people on her side supporting her on her big vision, a vision that changed her life.

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After the photoshoot, Mimmi and I kept in touch, she invited me for dinner with her and her friends after the photoshoot. I thought it was so kind, genuine and humble of her to include me in her after plans, this was only the beginning of getting to know the type of kind person she is.

I had to pass on the invitation since I had other obligations, however, we scheduled a coffee date later on the following week to catch up and get some one-on-one time.

The day of the meeting with Mimmi had come and as I was heading over to the cafe where we were meeting, on my way there she decided it would be best to go over to her house instead. Once I arrived at her home I felt like I really had the chance to get to know more of the person behind the revolutionary sustainable brand.

As I walked in I couldn’t help but notice her creativity in every corner of her house. Spread across the hallway entrance, there were portrait paintings and masterpieces of hers hanging that led you to the living room area where her infamous sewing machine was stationed. The sewing machine, the main component of what helped Mimmi’s vision come to life.

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Mimmi’s educational background is in sewing, pattern making, and fashion design. She also has a bachelor degree in retail design, which she’s been working with up until two years ago. Coming from a stable work environment, Mimmi knew that she needed something better for herself. In her younger years, she was referred to as “waste”, and with the rough experiences she has encountered throughout her adult years, she felt as she was just “waste”. The beauty of this challenging moment in her life was when she used what others would see as “waste” to create a treasurable and valuable masterpiece. Have you ever heard that saying, one man’s trash is another person’s treasure? Mimmi’s story is exactly that and much more!

Last summer, just less than a year ago, Mimmi was listening to a podcast, “Power Ladies Podcast” that inspired her to take charge of her future. After going through a really tough time in her life and living in depression, lack of confidence and self-awareness, she gradually started to work on self-development. She had come to a point where she felt better and ready for new challenges. The podcast gave her the push she needed to help straighten the curved paths in her way.

The podcast was interviewing another woman entrepreneur who started a business from a passion of hers. In the podcast, she mentioned how the now very successful cake bakery was born by her filling up her living room full of baked goods. Mimmi felt as the podcast was speaking directly to her- telling her to fill up her living room with fabrics. With a push and a vision that is exactly what Mimmi did! She started to replace her fears, challenges, and doubts with her love for creating stunning pieces from leftover furniture fabrics.

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All of the coats are handmade by Mimmi herself. Each detail, each button and each seam of her first collection has been created out of full distress, challenges and fears from her past experiences that she later converted into a self-caring, life-changing and impactful brand. Anxiety, fear and lack of confidence are three of the most common factors society faces today. These three factors can hinder us from moving forward and excelling into our best potential. Mimmi saw an opportunity to use her passion as a way to help her out of her depression and anxiety.

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Today she has developed very strong daily routines that help reach the full potential of each day and enjoy each project on a positive and zen-filling process. Self-care is very important in Mimmi’s ritual routines, starting off the days with breathing exercises instead of jumping straight to her phone. She has replaced what would be considered as distractions with self-awareness and self-development tactics that help her really listen to herself and develop more self love each day.

Her positive outlook in life and courageous attitude reflects on her fashion coat line. Mimmi wants her brand to be known as the result of bringing something that is considered “waste” to life. Her goal is not to create a brand that others see as an A class fancy garment, but a brand that has meaning, a story, and life behind it all.

A rough past turned into a bright future full of opportunities, and a life changer. By Van Der Crussen is a brand that inspires others to live to their fullest potential, to be yourself, and to never give up, just push through the toughest paths, because there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Today June 13th, 2019, By Van Der Crussen has its launch in Oslo, Norway! Please join Mimmi through her journey and as she sails off into the seas of success!

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Stay in touch and follow the journey of a passion-driven fashion designer:
@VANDERCRUSSEN

 

NYC in a Nutshell | New York Travel Guide Book

NYC in a Nutshell | New York Travel Guide Book
‘Featuring local New York Singer and Artist, Cassandra Nunez 

The Yellow cabs and their endless honking, the city’s fast paced lifestyle, the subway’s rush hour congestion and the smell of street food vendors. Welcome to the city that never sleeps, hello New York!

This all may seem a little too much to take in at first, but give it a day or two and you’ll adapt just fine. After a couple of days in New York City, you will convert into a New Yorker. Before you know it, people will start asking you for directions since you’ll give off the impression of being a local.

New York may be one busy place, but once you stop, take a deep breath and really take the time to look at the city you notice the city has a different look to it than what the pictures, magazines or TV may present it to be. You may be asking yourself what the “different look” is that I’m referring to.

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Photo by: @caitlynmariesottile

I would say we will have our own personal experience and outlook once we dare to take a step back and really take in the city’s bliss. If it’s your first time going to New York City or even if it’s the second, you will always find every block having its own personality, style, and edge. From the Lower East side of the city to the Upper Midtown, the energy changes rapidly. Watch out for the cabs they might take you for a ride if you are not watching your walking speed. Give it a day or two. The city will grow on you faster than you think.

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@TRAVELWITHCURLS

Are you planning a trip to the B I G Apple? Let’s talk about things to do in New York.. Before we can talk about the city guide, let’s cover some important tips upon entering the city such as, Flights to NYCTransportationAccommodationNew York City Travel TipsFood in New York, and New York Summary. Ready? Let’s get started!

Flights to NYC:
For flights within the USA, I recommend traveling during the months of March, early AprilOctoberNovember, and during the winter months (except over the holidays).

**Travel Tip**
* LaGuardia (LGA) is the closest to Midtown and Upper Manhattan, and thus preferred by some travelers. LaGuardia is predominantly a domestic airport, with some flights to/from Canada and limited long-distance flights. LaGuardia is a quicker 35-minute jaunt *

If you are traveling to New York City from outside of the USA, I recommend using one of my favorite travel apps, Momondo. Momondo is a free travel search site that helps you search for the best prices available which then directs you to other sites to complete the booking. I have booked my trips to India, Dubai, and Poland through this platform and it saved a lot of time in searching while saving a lot of money with the flights I booked. The most recommended airport for international flights is JFK. However, some international flights do fly in and out of La Guardia, go with the choice that best suits your travel plans!

Transportation in New York City:
With over twenty million residents in the New York metropolitan area, New York city is one the most populated cities in the United States. The city spreads across five main boroughs so it’s safe to say there are many ways to get around!

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Taxi:
The infamous yellow cabs bring most of the color into the city and life to the streets of New York. I found the yellow cabs to be convenient in short distances in the city when searching for a on the spot, and there is not time to waste waiting for an UBER or Lyft to scoop you up. I suggest taking a yellow cab for the experience or if you’re in a rush and have no time to wait for an alternative ride.

Bus:
Get a better feel as a local and choose the bus as a transportation method if desired. Buses in New York are generally classified as local or express. Express routes have reduced stops and focus on serving commuter routes from some of the busier areas of Manhattan to the outer boroughs.

You will only find the busses at a marked stop, which are normally located two to three blocks apart. Don’t know what stops the bus will take? No worries the bus stop will indicate which bus routes service the route.

Subway:
What a better way to experience New York City and avoid the city traffic than by taking the New York Subway. You can experience the hustle & bustle of the concrete jungle city here. If you have not experienced the New York City subway before, I suggest taking a look at the directions, take a screenshot before entering the subway station, once you’re in there, you are fighting your way through the busy track lines and if it’s rush hour time, you’ll be fighting your way onto one of the trains. Fortunately, the trains have ac in them on a hot day if you go in the summertime.

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**Fun Fact**
* The New York City subway is one of the busiest, oldest & largest subway system in the world. With 472 subway stations, this is the most popular way to get around New York. It operates twenty-four hours a day across 36 lines, and serves four out of five of New York’s boroughs. *

Rail:
The subway isn’t the only passenger railway line operating around New York. A majority of the commuter-focused lines designed to bring people into the city from the more distant boroughs are the rail lines.

Unless you are planning on visiting one of the more distant part of the city, or have booked a hotel along way from the main sights in New York, it’s unlikely you’re going to need to use one of these rail services.

**Travel Tip **
*You can buy a ticket for one-way journeys at the train station. There is also an e-ticketing app called e-Tix available for both for Android and IPhone devices, which lets you buy tickets on your phone for the Metro-North Railroad or Long Island Rail Road. Fares will vary depending on the route you take. *

Ferry:
The beauty of New York City can be seen through its many methods of transportation including a Ferry. With the large amount of water surrounding New York City, there are a variety of options for using boats to get around, including the NYC Ferry service and Staten Island Ferry.

**Fun Fact**
*The NYC Ferry is a relatively recent addition to New York’s public transport system. Launched in 2017, this offers four lines, with two additional lines planned to open. There are 21 terminals and 23 boats in operation, connecting Manhattan with Brooklyn and Queens. *

Bicycle / Pedi cab:
Like many cities around the world, New York has a bike share program whereby you can get access to a large network of bikes located around the city, which you can drop off and pick off at various points.

**Travel Tip**
*The Citi Bike program is open to both locals and visitors. As of now, it’s $12 for a day pass, and $24 for a 3-day pass. These passes can be bought through the Citi Bike Mobile App, or in person at a station kiosk. Annual memberships are also available, which are more suited to residents or those staying longer term in the city,, You can sign up for the annual memberships on the official website. *

Walking:
Let’s talk about my favorite method of transportation, experiencing the city by foot! With a combination of walking and taking the subway, you will get the experience of what life as a New Yorker is really like. Grab a coffee and croissant, then off you go to explore the city’s wonders. Walking is the best way to get to see the city from a different angle and a local’s perspective. You’ll be surprised at the amount of places you’ll spot on your way that Yelp or Google might have missed! Get your trusted pair of sneakers and water bottle ready to explore the city’s hidden beauty.

Accommodation:
There are so many places to choose from when it comes to finding the most suitable New York City Hotel, so where can the ideal place to stay be located for you? Before planning on booking a hotel or Airbnb, be sure to map out where most of your time will be spent. Have somewhat of an itinerary in place before you book your accommodation as it’ll be easier to choose from the various options New York City has to offer . When my friend and I chose our ideal hotel stay, we made sure that most of our places on our list were either a short cab ride away, short subway ride or within walking distance. We also wanted to be located where a good amount of food and bar options were located.

After booking our flights and confirming our meetings, we booked our accommodation according to our schedule. It truly helped us narrow down our options and found the perfect hotel in Midtown, Manhattan, The Bernic Hotel!

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If you’re an Urban Explorer and love modern boutique style hotels with a view, The Bernic Hotel in New York City is one I highly recommend! I spent a long weekend there without ever feeling homesick. The staff makes you feel right at home and they are so attentive to you during your stay. Pop the champagne bottles and get ready with a glass of sparkles. Or throw on a robe and hotel slippers from The Bernic and relax. From the comfortable bed mattresses to the bathroom floor heaters, this hotel was definitely an experience. Talk about a great location, it is only moments from the Chrysler Building, The Theater District, Times Square and Madison Avenue!

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Hidden Gems:
Explore some of the hidden gems we got to encounter on our trip in NYC.  We wine and dined, and were also apart of a very special Friday night live show from an up and coming NYC artist. I’ll share more about her in a bit, but first – food!

SOMM TIME WINE BAR, NYC:
This is literally a hidden gem in Midtown East NYC.  Somm Time Wine is a place for the casual wine drinker as well as the serious aficionado. The menu can get a bit overwhelming and the options are many! No worries, the staff are not only there to accommodate your wine palate for the day, but also guide you to taste different wines according to your taste. You might even walk out with a new favorite wine to add on to your list. My friend and I went to

Somm Time Wine for a quick drink and ended up staying there for over two hours. The staff is lovely, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, and the music choice transports you over to a city in Western Europe. If you want to feed your brain here you can take some wine classes too. If you go, make sure to visit the Wine manager, Ciprian, tell him you found out about him through this post, he’ll be sure to hook it up for you 😉

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Photo by: @caitlynmariesottile

SNAFU:
During our stay at The Bernic, my friend and I were in the mood of some local night bar experience. To our surprise, we were staying right next to a popular local dive bar, Snafu. Typically, a dive bar concept is known to be a hole in the wall type of place where it can get a bit messy to say the least. However, we felt this one was very different than the dive bars we are used back home. During the weekdays, it gets very busy since it’s located in the mist of a business and financial district, so you can catch many wearing their business attire. On the other hand, during the weekends, this place can be more or less packed than the usual, since Friday & Saturday is more for the Lower East Side activities for the locals.

Momofuku Noodle Bar:
New York City Momofuku Noodle Bar was founded by American restaurateur and TV personality, David Chang. Here you can find Japanese ramen with a soupçon of French technique with Berkshire Pork Belly! We were lucky enough to have found a place to sit right away, that’s because it was during a weekday and after lunch hours and before evening time.

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If Momofuku Noodle Bar is on your list make sure to not leave without trying the,

  • Pork Buns (hoisin, scallion, cucumber)
  • Pork Ramen (pork belly, scallion, egg yolk)
  • Hand rolled steamed bread (bing bread with butter and roasted carrot spread)
  • Shacksbury x Momofuku Cider (Vergennes, VT)

**Travel Tip**
Momofuku Noodle Bar does not take standard reservations. 

Saritas Mac & Cheese Macaroni:
If you are heading towards the heart of Manhattan’s East Village and you are a fan of mac & cheese, discover a new twist of this popular American staple at Saritas Mac & Cheese Macaroni. S’MAC is known for it’s gourmet Mac & Cheese styles and it’s different flavors! If you are a fan of spicy dishes, I welcome you to try the Masala Flavor! Enjoy ☺

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Crave Bar:
Want to experience an Oyster Shooter in a sophisticated yet fun environment? You have to check out this sustainable, eco-conscious restaurant and bar, Crave Bar. Their seafood is in season, organic when possible and importantly the ingredients are environmentally friendly. I am not  much of an oyster eater, however, the Oyster Shooter experience was one that might of changed my perspective. I’ll definitely give it a second go next time I’m in New York City.

Fig & Olive:
Fancy some Mediterranean delicacies in the heart of Manhattan? Fig & Olive is the perfect place for a wine and dine type of evening. Dress up and enjoy an evening in the beautiful two-floor building with amazing food and wine selections.  The one we dined in was located on Fifth Avenue. The second floor has a fancy dining layout while the first floor seems to be a bit more casual and has a bar type feel, which both are very welcoming. The food and menu is very tasty and all dishes seem to not be a bad choice, but PLEASE don’t leave without trying their Chef’s Selection dish, the Foi Gras– fig jam, orange zest, it was truly life changing!

Cha Cha Matcha:
Are you a matcha lover with the dream of ever experiencing matcha heaven?! Cha Cha Matcha is the place to check out. I was walking down Broadway Street and notice the pretty in pink building at the corner with big bold green letters. I knew I had to check it out. Sure enough, once I entered I knew I was in matcha paradise. Inspired by the Eastern tea practices, and armed with leaves straight from Uji, Japan, you will experience a flavor of authentic Japanese Ceremonial Matcha. You can find vegan pastry options here too! Don’t forget to try their infamous Cha Cha Matcha, or their Ginger Turmeric Matcha Latte.

Rockwood Music Hall:
You can’t say you’ve explored New York City hidden gems without exploring the beauty of the Lower East Side of ManhattanThe Lower East Side is where the gritty alleys and tenement-style buildings are mixed with upscale apartments that are surrounded by chic boutiques. Every corner or block you walk through you’ll find trendy café shops, appealing restaurants trendy bars and my all-time favorite trendy music venues. It was here where my friend and I spent a Friday night, enjoying the outgoing crowd, drinking a gin & tonic while listening to the beautiful live-music of Cassandra Nunez, a local singer & artist at the Rockwood Music Hall venue.

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@CassandraNunez

What better way to get to know a city than from the locals themselves, right? I had the honor to have a short interview with singer, songwriter and the artist herself, Cassandra Nunez. Get to know more about New York City from a local’s perspective in her own words sharing her top spots to eat, picture perfect locations, and tips. Also, she shares how Instagram has helped her with her own business. Get ready, set, let’s get started!

Cassandra Nunez:

Singing has always been a dream of mine so 4 years ago I decided to take it to the next level and move to the concrete jungle. It’s been a roller coaster that I can truly say it  gets better each year.

From constantly meeting so many talented individuals to creating the music I dreamed of, New York has and still inspires me. I am a singer/ songwriter and because of that social media is the biggest driving force I’ve got. As an independent artist ,Instagram has been major key in everything, from marketing and promoting my music to connecting with people and actually working on with them on projects. Not only that, I get to connect first hand with my fans and get discovered by new fans.

Top 3 Coffee spots:

  1. Joe and the juice (they have tons of location throughout Manhattan, but the Soho location is my fave.)
  2. Blank Slate Tea (Cutest IG Worthy Tea’s)
  3. Mapi Espresso and Sandwich Shop (This is my favorite hole in the wall café con leche spot!)

Top 3 Picture spots:

  1. West Village/ Greenwich Village (every corner is picture worthy)
  2. Chinatown
  3. Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Top 3 places to grab a drink:

  1. While you were young (seriously a girls dream drink spot)
  2. Sel Rrose
  3. Public Hotel

Top 3 spots for Dinner:

  1. Supper NYC (in L.E.S) Best Italian. Once I ate here 3 times in one week!
  2. Palma – Italian (I’m a sucker for Italian, this is a different Italian region from Supper and this spot is a dream)
  3. Boqueria – Best Paella

Top 3 spots for Dessert:

  1. Milk and Cream Cereal Bar – Chinatown
  2. Momofuku Milk Bar
  3. Chikalicious Dessert Bar

New York City Tips from a local:

  1. Reservations for dinner are key! Call ahead a few hours or days if it’s a trendy spot.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with directions or recommendations, people are more helpful than you would expect!
  3. There is tons of free memorable fun stuff to do in the city, make sure to look into before your trip!

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@CassandraNunez

Get to know the local behind these amazing recommendations, or if you’re in the city, make sure to check her out live in one of her shows, click here.

Can’t wait to share more travel stories, tips, and tricks with you! Thank you for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment if there are any questions you have about this recent blog post, or any travel ventures you and your loved ones plan to embark on. Stay tuned for next week’s feature of Travel With Curls and the locals around the world…

Continue reading “NYC in a Nutshell | New York Travel Guide Book”

How to Travel for Less and Experience MORE!

I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list.

– Susan Sontag

Travel for less and experience more!

Is it possible to travel with a first class mindset on a coach budget? From going broke during a trip to staying at a 5 star hotel in Dubai with 1st class service on a coach budget, it’s safe to say that I have figured out some tips and tricks that crack the code of spending less and living more during your travels. The following tips that I will share with you are based on my own experiences. These following tips have worked for me and I hope it will be beneficial for you to know and to implement on your next travels!

After traveling alone for over 10 years, I would still consider myself to be a bit premature when it comes to traveling. This is due to the fact that every time I travel I am constantly learning something new, as the rules and regulations are different depending on the destination and are constantly changing.

However, one thing that must stay consistent when planning your next trip is the “trip planning structure.” Once you have developed a travel foundation the structure will come into place, making the rest of the trip preparation a breeze. There will be merely tweaking here and there from travel to travels.

Why should you develop a trip planning structure? It is very time-consuming. Sometimes going the easy way out, booking tickets and hotels, all in one go without using the planning structure can lead to overspending and/or unseen hiccups during the trip. After reading an article on an exploratory study of vacation stress (Crotts, J. C., & Zehrer, A. (2012). Tourism Analysis, 17, 547-552, I learned that the top three most traveling stress factors are the trip planning, traveling to the destination and the actual stay at the destination.

With my set travel planning structure, I have implemented these three stress factors to alleviate and prevent stress during or after the travels. If I were you I will get my notepad and writing utensil prepared!

Start by creating your Travel Planning Structure:
This is very similar to goal setting; I took the concept of creating a vision board, setting realistic goals, adding millstones and deadlines and recording the progress throughout to track actions and make sure it’s effective, or to improve and change what ever is needed to make sure the overall objective gets completed. In this case, the objective is to travel to any desired destination hassle and stress free!

Step 1: Create an E-vision board or draw it out. Where do you plan on traveling to? What date? How long? What are some travel inspirations (this can help when creating an itinerary when planning on what to do in the city, site seeing, tours etc.)?

Step 2: Write down minimum three short term and long term goals. What to you want to accomplish before the trip? (Budget wise, savings, complete job duties etc., this way you won’t be thinking about during your travels.) Write down minimum of three long-term goals. What do you want out of this trip (local interaction, strictly isolation, shopping etc. this will help structure your daily endeavors.)

Step 3: Make sure to create milestones. Since the goals have already been determined, you have an idea how much you would like to spend which this leads to knowing how much savings must be in the account prior to traveling. Here is where the actions and deadlines come into play. In order to save money some action plans need to be created depending on the individual and their casual spending.

An example on creating this milestone can be done by: Save a total of $$ for flight and hotel booking by (DATE), execution plan: Must pre-cook meals for week, make coffee at home and transfer 1% of biweekly paycheck into “Travel” savings account.

Step 4: Once the vision board is created, goals are set and action plans with deadlines are conducted, it’s time to execute and record the progress. Now it’s planning and preparation time!
Plan, Prepare & Prosper

Set a budget
Before any planning or preparation for the trip to take place, setting a budget is a GREAT starting point. This will help with knowing what to look for when booking or paying for flights, hotels, excursions and restaurants, or evening knowing how much cash you should have during the trip. Starting with a budget will not only help you find exactly what you are looking for in your price range, but also help you be in control of your spending before your trip. This can prevent any additional stress keeping you from falling into any surprises during any stage of your traveling.

Setting a budget in any occasion is ideal and quite vital. Having a budget in mind also gives you an idea on the next important point on how much money to save up for the particular trip.

Start saving money:
Don’t make the mistake in buying airfare tickets, booking hotels with the reserve now pay later option and leave without having a set travel budget in place. Before purchasing or booking anything make sure to have money saved for the trip. This includes, spending money, emergency money and money that will be used as cash at the destination.

– Open a new “Savings account and title it “Travel”: instead of coffee that week, make coffee at home or take it to go and set that money aside in your savings, anything that you spend on a monthly basis, if it’s a “want,” throw it into the savings. Also, every time your paycheck comes around, put a small percentage of that money into your savings account. Before you know it, it’ll start accumulating rapidly, and you’ll have travel money to save, spend and splurge! Here is a spreadsheet that can help you with tracking your savings, Savings Goal Sheet.

Make an account with a Travel Fare Aggregator (low-costs travel websites):
Making an account with these travel websites allows you to book any flights, hotels or even sometimes tour excursions at a lower price while collecting sometime of loyalty points, these can be used towards future transactions. These include, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, and Booking.com etc.

I personally have been a fan of Expedia.com (Not an AD) for the past 3 years and after so many transactions, I have become a VIP member. What that means is, I receive the best discounts on luxury options when booking a hotel with upgrades at no extra charge. I was able to stay at a 5 star hotel in Dubai on a 3 star hotel budget and got an upgrade to a room with a view with no extra charge, just for being part of their VIP program! Travel smarter not harder.

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Search for the best transportation methods at the city of destination:

To refrain from spending major money on cab rides, it is important to note that some cities do not use, or allow, Uber. However, most cities provide public transportation or rental car options. It is always good to make sure plan b is taken care of, or what to expect when traveling to a city. (DO YOUR RESEARCH prior to the trip)

If your option is to rent a car, here are some websites or suggestions where to rent a car that work only with reputable suppliers and are trusted:

Doing some Shopping?
I would highly recommend doing any souvenir shopping outside of the airport. However, if there are certain delicacies, food, drinks, etc. that you would like to get from that city, make sure to purchase them in the duty-free area as the prices are better since tax is not included.

*If you do end up purchasing something outside of the airport, ask for tax return receipt, fill it out with information required and hand it in at a global blue tax return station at the airport, to get the taxes spent of your purchases back into your wallet.*

Pack light:
First and foremost make sure to travel with a carry on, trust me ladies, after recently going on a 15 day trip to 9 different cities with only a carry on, it is possible. I am a witness! Traveling with just a carry on will save SOOO much time and money. Of course, for us women it’s easier said than done right?

Why is it a time and money saver?
Traveling with a carry on will save you time by not having to check in a luggage and claim it after landing. It will be a money saver since you won’t have to pay for a checked in luggage, HOWEVER, this will only be valid if you do it the RIGHT way.

How do I manage to pack for so many days with packing so little?
Clothing:
Make sure to not OVERPACK, it you follow my list of what to pack, as far as clothing, it can save you extra space to buy little things here and there during your travels.

KEEP IN MIND: To check the airlines carry-on restrictions, some airlines differ from the others on the total weight, including your carry-on luggage, or personal item like a purse or backpack. It should all equal to or less than the weight suggested.

  • Pack one light denim & one dark denim
  • Pack one pant, trousers or just another pair of bottoms that can be dressy or casual
  • DO pack double amount of underwear (to prepare for amount of walking, activities etc.)
  • Socks (do not double pack)
  • 2 Belts one of each, dressy & Casual
  • Tops (2 dressy & 2 casual)
  • Shoes: ONE pair of SNEAKERS, ONE pair of sandals or flats, ONE pair of dress shoes (one of the pairs you will be wearing for travels, it’ll most likely be the sneakers)

Hot tip: Roll your clothes to get the max out of your suitcase/backpack!

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Travel Luggage Packing Organizers

(Click on above text underlined to purchase)

Toiletries:

  • Travel container for any liquids: Shampoo, Conditioner, body lotion, and facial cleansing products. All travel sized liquid bottles should be 100 ml/100 grams (3.4 oz.) or less and must fit in a Ziploc (plastic bag) with the dimensions of a one liter/quart bag are 24 cm by 22.86 cm (6 in. by 9 in.) or 20 cm by 17.5 cm (8 in.
  • Hairbrush (do not pack hairdryer as majority of accommodation places provide one)
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Travel toothbrush
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Makeup (make sure to take makeup essentials, not the whole shebang)

Hot tip: Try keeping your toiletries in a plastic or waterproof bag in case of any leakage.

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Travel Smart Travel Bottle Set

(Click on above text underlined to purchase)

Technology:
Make sure to pack the important travel gear you can’t go without to record your travel story. I recommend taking the rest of the items in a separate backpack or large purse. This will not be an extra charge as 2 items per traveler can be carried by hand without having to check it in.

What to pack in the backpack:

  • Universal Power Adapter
  • Two sets of headphones
  • I-pad, laptop, etc.

Do as the locals do:
When I travel I like to immerse in the culture and the lifestyle of the locals. Doing it like the locals, believe it or not, it will save you a lot of money. When traveling to a place with renowned, pricy tourist attractions, it’s best skipping them altogether. Instead, go to the market, load up on fruits and cheese, and then sit in a sunny spot and people-watch. Not only is the cheaper option going to save you money, but also it is often the most rewarding.

On a personal note, doing as the locals do for me, also means talking to the locals. Getting to know them and where they live. Sometimes this can happen at a restaurant, coffee shop or even on a metro. You never know what friendships you’ll build that will end up lasting a lifetime. Having these type of friendships will really make it feel as if you are immersing in the culture and getting to know that city. They might even give an invite for a home cooked meal, or even offer a place to stay in the future. Connecting with the locals is a great way to really get a feel of the city that is being visited.

I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list. This statement couldn’t be any more accurate for me. I have traveled in many different ways, which caused me to spend half of my savings and even end up broke on some of my travels. However, if it weren’t for these experiences, I wouldn’t have the knowledge I am sharing with you today. I plan to continue to travel and keep on learning and grow as the desired traveler I hope to become. Happy travels and please share your feedback with me if you choose to take my recommendations in consideration.


Planning your next travels? Send your info below and I will be more than happy to be your Virtual Travel Guide and help you plan your next travels!

 

 

Dubai is Passion!

“The word possible is not in the leaders’ dictionaries. No matter how big the challenges, strong faith, determination and resolve will overcome them”
                                                                         – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum


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Are you a traveler or inspire to be one or at least want to travel someday? If so what is your utmost least favorite thing about traveling or what do you think it will be? Traveling consists of many things, such as pre-planning, setting up your itinerary, packing, long flights, long waits, jet-lags and the list goes on right? But my least favorite part about traveling is…. once I come back home, I want to do it all over again! Isn’t that crazy? I don’t call it crazy. I call it, PASSION.

While traveling I have a lot of time to kill, I can either use that time productivly or I can just sit and stare into space, which I end up doing 99.9% of the time. That 1% left in me is where my ideas spark and come to life. On my way to the UAE from USA I got inspired to title my next blog post, PASSION DUBAI.

 

What defines passion? It’s an emotion that is almost uncontrollable. That same feeling is what I encountered once I stepped off the plane. Let the breathtaking experience begin! It hit me that I was in the UAE once I arrived at boarders and saw all of the male patrols wearing their traditional Kandura’s, an ankle length, loose-fitting robe for men, usually white in color. I have always experienced very friendly people at the airport; they are very welcoming and opened to assist if needed.

** Fun Fact**
*Dubai is a business and tourism hub. Its workforce is mainly in the tourism sector, their hospitality is so genuine and they all make you feel as if you are royalty. In Dubai, you have workers from all over Asia, primarily Singaporeans and Malaysians. If you want to experience being treated like a king and queen on your vacation, this place is it! *

Once you enter the Emirate city, the oud (perfume or cologne) fragrant oil worn traditionally by both Emirati men and women dominates the aroma of the city. This fragrance has such a particular and mesmerizing scent that anyone who goes to Dubai will soon learn to recognize and associate it with the Emirates.

**Fun Fact**
**Oud is one of the most expensive natural resources in the world, fetching 1.5 times the price of gold, and is a great souvenir to take home from a visit to Dubai.**

My first time going to the UAE was to Dubai in the beginning of this year, 2018, during springtime. The weather was impeccable and perfect to sunbathe in. Only this time, months later, on my way to India, I stopped in Dubai for a few days during the summer when the weather was scorching hot and the experience was slightly different from the first. How hot is it in the summer? You know that feeling when you step inside of a sauna for the first minute and your heart starts racing while you have to wipe your sweat off your forehead knowing you have to bear the heat just a bit longer in order for your body to adjust to the extreme climate change? Yes, that hot!

With such heat I knew I had to make the best out of my time there, I mean c’mon I’m in Dubai! You might be thinking,  “Is it possible to enjoy a city where the thought of facing the sauna-heat-like weather makes you cringe? ” I guess you’ll have to keep on reading to find out..

Dubai is a city and Emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene.

**Fun Fact**
* Dubai was once a natural creek harbor that became a center for the fishing, pearling and sea trade and the largest on the coast with 350 shops and a steady throng of visitors and businessmen. Later, after oil was discovered in 1966, Dubai became the city we know today, visionary leadership, high-quality infrastructure, an expatriate-friendly environment, zero tax on personal and corporate income and low import duties, and a business and tourism hub *


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Google Photos

Luckily once my mother and I arrived to the airport we had arranged a chauffeur to welcome us in and drive us to our hotel. During our time on the road from the airport to the hotel, which is less than 30 minutes from where we were staying at, we managed to pick up an interesting conversation with the chauffeur. We asked him for recommendations of places to go, eat, etc. We had such a great bond in such little time; he offered us his cab services to drive us all over Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Our diver just started his cab driving business so it was an honor for him to drive one of his first clients around and show them his city.

**Quick Tip (IMPORTANT)**
*If you are going to book a driver or any private transportation in Dubai, make sure you get the reference from a trusted party, in my case I called the hotel we were staying at and asked them to arrange us with a third party private transportation company they have worked with in the past. This shows and confirms that they are a trusted, reliable, and most of all safe transportation company *

What makes Dubai, Dubai?

Let’s point out some important factors of what builds Dubai to be what is it today, can you guess any before you continue reading?…ok time is up, discover the important key factors of the building blocks of this magnificent city:

 

Infrastructure

Ok, before I go on to deliver some juicy facts about Dubai’s infrastructure, let’s talk about who runs the whole UAE, does that sound good to you? The UAE is the country consisting of seven other different Emirates “States”, Dubai being one of them. The President of the UAE is Khalifa bin Zayed Al NahyanSheikh, it still takes me sometime to memorize and get used to saying it without a buffer. Now let’s continue with some interesting facts about Dubai’s infrastructure, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, Vice-President & Prime Minister of the UAE announced a long-term national initiative to build a green economy in the UAE under the theme ‘A green economy for sustainable development’.

Despite the heat, you can be sure that your health is at ease when taking a deep breath in after admiring the world class iconic buildings. They say familiarity breeds contempt, after seeing such state of the art buildings, I strongly have to agree with that. So inhale all you want without worrying about dirty pollution accumlating in your lungs, thanks to Vice President and leader of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he implemented a Dubai Strategic Plan that consisted of applying the specifications of ‘green buildings’ to all the buildings and premises in Dubai with the aim of keeping it a healthy city with a clean and pollution-free environment, lovely!

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Out of the sand award-winning airports, super-luxurious hotels and resorts, reputed universities, modern hospitals and medical facilities, sports and entertainment venues, mega malls, waterways, dancing fountains – and a futuristic metro network was built. Dubai is also known to have a world-class network making Dubai’s infrastructure one of its strengths with its legendary lifestyle and aesthetic roads, highways and flyovers help reduce traffic jams, providing ease of access and assisting the safety of those behind the wheel.

**Fun Fact**
*The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has launched a set of guidelines that will help regulate the criteria of the structure that allows the quantity of the consumption of electricity and water and renewed energy, making them save billions of dollars! *

Tourism
Being that tourism is part of the government’s strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the Emirates, and it bringing millions and millions of dollars a year, Dubai continues to grow. The aim with all of the new buildings and expansion, the aim is to triple tourism income by 2020. What mainly attracts tourists to visit and experience Dubai is the shopping and its possession of other ancient and modern attractions.

Things to do and see in Dubai:

Burj Khalifa: It’s quite hard to miss it when descending from the plane onto Dubai’s solid grounds. Standing 828 meters high (2,716 ft. high), Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest tower and it naturally dominates the Dubai skyline. I ended up going alone after an unexpected weekend stay in Dubai. I was wondering how to end my weekend with a bang, of course, I couldn’t leave Dubai without visiting its most iconic building.

There are two options; you can see the city of Dubai from all three levels, 148 + 125 + 124 for 370 AED  (100 USD) or from levels 125 + 124 for AED 135 (37 USD). I ended up going with the second and most economical option, and I still had an amazing view and experience! I went during the nighttime, after watching their infamous fountain show located in the Dubai Mall, they play known songs, like Thriller from MJ to one of today’s hits, and the fountain dances to the beat of the song, by far one of the best fountain shows I have seen!

 

 

Dubai Mall: Experience shopping like an Emirati! Here the definition of shopping is redefined, you will need more than one day to fully go through the whole mall. I got lost making my way around. Just when I thought I almost found the end to the other side of the mall, I ended up in a completely different, and more traditional, side. Here, I  ran into a custom, handmade and traditional women’s long dress shop. I ended up buying myself a nice souvenir.

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I took advantage and bought myself a piece or two of the beautiful ankle length Kaftan dress. Getting lost turned out to be a better expereince than I would’ve imagined. If you read this before your trip to Dubai, you now know that at the main entrance, there are people that work in the mall and will direct you to where you wish to go, they’ll be standing right in front of the Information Center. I can’t believe I walked right passed it! Last but not least, enjoy some time spent in the mall’s top attraction,
Dubai’s Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

 

 

**Quick Tip**
*There are two very famous malls in Dubai, do NOT get confused like I did, lol I was supposed to meet up with some friends at the “Mall of the Emirates”. Unfortunately, I did not do my due diligence and research prior to meeting up with them. They are two different malls and about 30 minutes from each other. *

 The Dubai Fountain: Experience the an awe-inspiring show right at the base of the iconic Burj Khalifa, this is a picture perfect spot if you want to get the whole building in one shot! This is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system. I found myself grooving along the fountain as each colorful and illuminated jet swayed in tune to various musical numbers from around the world. I suggest you get here at least 15 minutes before the show starts and leave about 5 minutes before it ends, or else you’ll be elbowing people out of your bubble space!

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**Quick Tip**
* Two showings occur in the afternoon (1pm and 1:30pm), except on Fridays (1:30pm to 2pm) and evening displays begin at sundown and take place every 30 minutes until the final song plays at 11pm.*

 The walk and beach at JBR: The first time I came to Dubai in the early springtime, I had the chance to stay walking-distance from this lovely urban beach district. I love how everything is so close, you have amazing shopping places, resident homes, hotels, beach areas, outdoor shopping markets, DJs pumping out the tunes on weekends, a regular open-air cinema and a popular water park to entertain the little ones for an hour or two.

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Dubai Marina: If you want to experience a stunning cityscape and a stroll along the water beneath the urban skyline, this is the place you want to be. Look into the future at the world’s largest man-made marina. Dubai Marina is truly best captured in person, pictures do not do it any justice! Try it out for yourself and tell me otherwise.

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Madinat Jumeirah: Please, please, please do not leave Dubai without experiencing this beautiful resort complex located on the sea. If you want to experience a combination of tradition and luxury, come to Madinat Jumeirah, Madinat Jumeirah translates as ‘City of Jumeirah.’ Once I stepped foot here I felt like I was transported back in time during the old Arab era, which makes sense once I found out it was inspired by an ancient citadel.

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This place consists of luxury hotels, private enclaves built in the traditional style. It has more than 40 restaurants and lounges. You can also explore on traditional wooden abras to appreciate the waterways and architecture. Also, you can’t forget what resides right around this area. The only 7- Star hotel in the world, Burj Al Arab, a striking sail-shaped building that sits on an island.

 

La Mer: For the locals and for the visitors, this world-class beachfront has the perfect views with long walkways that lead to a variety of restaurants to choose from. I enjoyed the water breeze with some good company and a juicy burger here. The best part of it all, I was also able to walk the burger off while admiring the beach views. This is the ideal experience of the best of the sun, sea and outdoor fun in Dubai.

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City Walk Dubai- Experiencing downtown and enjoying the astonishing skyline is quite an adventure in itself; however, I was craving some local spots. My friends and I got lucky and were able to experience the grand opening of Dubai’s City Walk, a creative lifestyle space where people can live, work and play. It’s more like an outdoor mall, full of places to shop and eat, very relaxing and comfortable walking area. Here you can easily get inspired to actively seek the unexpected.

 

Traditions
The culture of local people and their traditions have been developing throughout the centuries, however its beauty and originality still remains just as captivating. Once you get to experience more of the city, you can see with your own eyes the evolution of the city built on dessert.

Greetings-Saying “Asa’lam ALeikum’ (Peace be Upon You) will be taken to heart by people as it is a very respectable greeting. When a Muslim greets another, he says this and the reply would be ” Wa Aleikum Asa’lam”

Friday brunch-Passport issues, denial to board my next flight (read, Do’s & Don’ts section at the bottom) and 24hrs later, my friend wanted to cheer me up and he kindly invited me to experience Dubai’s most famous gastronomic institution- the Friday brunch. At first, I didn’t understand the significance of brunch as a “must” on a Friday, however, later I learned that these sumptuous feasts are when the city’s expat communities come together to celebrate the start of the weekend.

 

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Locals: Every corner of this city has its own unique customs, following which is considered a duty for local residents. As I walked through the streets of the city, I saw people dressed in beautiful national costumes. In Dubai many people wear it not only on holidays, but also in their everyday life.

Men Attire Long dresses made of light airy Kondura cotton

Women Attire Elegant dresses with long sleeves embroidered with gold  and beads. Various headscarves are a mandatory attribute of the national dress

 

Another interesting women fashion staple and one that sparks your curiosity, which are the special types of veil that cover women’s faces. These outfits are the result of not only religious differences, but also the desire to adapt to the local climate. It’s interesting because in such a hot climate city you would think tat fully covered attire will only make you sweat more, on the other hand, it keeps your body nice and cool. Light cotton clothing is a good protection against heat.

Language- From the signs on the street or shops to the menus at restaurants, Arabic is used as the official language in all correspondence of all federal authorities and
establishments in the country. However, English is the language young Emiratis are embracing because it opens the door to popular Western culture.

Customs The locals are extremely hospitable. It is important for us who are visiting the UAE to consider some rules of behavior before going so we can be prepared and safe from hurting them. It’s always better never to refuse an invitation to pay a visit to a house of a local inhabitant. Traditionally, guests are welcomed with a cup of coffee with cardamom. Drinking of not one, but two or three cups is considered a sign of good taste. After a meal or drink it’s always important to show gratitude and thank hosts for their hospitality.

 Investments and Entrepreneurship opportunities
Dubai’s population keeps on increasing and the city’s plans to keep building and adding on to its infrastructure are endless. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, recently set up a fund worth millions that will assist innovators and entrepreneurs with the funding to turn ideas into reality. During my trip in Dubai, I spoke with some locals that gave me great insights on what they think and know the future of entrepreneurship will be like in just the next couple of years. They said Dubai would become the entrepreneurial capital of the world with investors and business owners from all over the globe.

As I rode around the city, I noticed the same advertisement in almost every corner that read “Dubai 2020”. It started to catch my attention and after the third time seeing it, I knew I had to learn more about it. Dubai’s expo will be a festival of people coming together to build and create a driving force behind new developments. This expo will showcase and explore what is possible when new ideas and people connect. This has already stimulated a lot of interest and attention from companies and hundreds of business enthusiasts to head to the city to cater to an affluent and growing market.

**Fun Fact**
* Forbes named Dubai as the 40th best city worldwide fro doing business, while IMF has said UAE’s economy could outperform UK, US, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore over the 2015-2020 period. *

History
When traveling to Dubai, and taking the moment to step outside of the modernized city that was built on sand. Looking at it from a different angle, you start to appreciate not just the skyline views, but also the story behind it. Very quickly, what I’ve learned from local residents of Dubai, before the 1960’s, this glamorous city was not so glamorous. It was a city that relied solely on its creek ports. 50 years later is now an iconic global and classic city. It’s crazy to think that Dubai had to borrow money from Amir of Kuwait to renovate Dubai’s creek since its sand banks created hazards for dhows when navigating the port. It was later in the late 60’s Oil was discovered in the Gulf and these ports that they renovated became an important role when Dubai started exporting oil in 1969.

Later, Dubai experienced a slight drop in the oil sector, therefore, the ruler decided to gear Dubai’s workforce focus in tourism to help continue to boost the economy. In my opinion I believe he did the right thing. Today, we can still see some of the old parts of Dubai and its traditional homes. To think the past generations were living to survive and to see how they live such lavishing lifestyles, you come to realize, having a vision, execution and hard work really pays off.

Diversity
Personally, coming from such a diverse city my self Orlando, Florida, and having lived in a multi-culture driven city, London. I have not experienced such a high level of diversity like I do when I visit Dubai. Seeing traditional Arabic wear in every corner, with languages spoken from all over the world, and restaurants with cuisine from all continents at the same time in and all in one place was quite an interesting and rather shocking experience.

Ever since tourism became what we know it is today in, there is a lot of Western influence. Which makes sense why Dubai is a main attraction for people when choosing a travel destination. As a foreigner, it is still somewhat of a cultural shock, since it’s still a country in the UAE and it abides to its regulations, customs and traditions. Nevertheless, Dubai is the most visited and opened country in the UAE when it comes to welcoming expats.

Hospitality
If you want to experience exceptional hospitality and get treated like royalty, Dubai is just the place to go to for an unforgettable customer service experience. Sometimes is to the point that their genuine and extra polite treatment leaves you with a doubt in your mind making you wonder “wait a minute what’s the catch?” Nevertheless, is in their culture and traditions to treat everyone equally with the same level of respect and services. Even if you are not an Emirate, you will feel as if you were treated like one.

 **Fun Fact**
*The Emiratis are the locals, born and raised in the UAE. According to a research and statistics done Telegraph magazine, just 42 per cent of expats polled in the UAE feel they’ve integrated well with the local people, compared with a global average of 61 per cent, meaning not much interaction is going on with the UAE locals, in fact, the visitors and expats seem to stay within the same circle, should we change that and try to engage more with the Emirati culture?*

Glamour, beauty and Splendor
Everywhere you look is a jaw-dropping experience, from the architecture to the meticulous details in the décor and food presentations. In less than three decades this small city has emerged to the world’s most advanced, modern and affluent city. What really blew me away were not so much of the man-made city views, but the old and original streets of what Dubai once was. Our driver told us that we haven’t seen Dubai until we saw what once was the true Dubai.

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He drove us down some alley way far out from Downtown, he turned left and turned right, it seemed like we were crossing empty lots filled with sand. Until he finally hit a stopping point and had us look out our window. All I saw were brick-like homes, with cotton like material covering the roofs and windows of the house. People outside conversing and kids playing on the streets. As we were looking out our driver told us that was we were witnessing was the little bit of the real Dubai that was left. To me it was so beautiful to still see some of the country’s history and true foundation of where it once stood. Yes, it was one of their toughest moments in history. However, a lot of the culture is still seen and felt there today.

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DXB Blog

Gastronomy
My favorite topic to share is the food! In Dubai the only bad thing about the food is that it’s hard to choose what you want to eat when there are so many options. The most popular cuisine among residents is the Arabic food of the Middle East, specially the Lebanese, Iranian and Syrian gastronomy. Personally, I loved the Arabic experience, the food and enjoyed the service from Burj Al Hamam and Milas Middle Eastern Restaurant.

There are also excellent Persian, Turkish, Moroccan, Indian, Pakistani and Filipino restaurants that complement the local preferences. Foreigners and visitors have the option to also enjoy the wide choice of international gastronomy offered; from American to European and Indian to Asian. Again, the options are endless!

 

Things to do outside of Dubai
On my first trip to Dubai, my friends asked me, “Want to travel around the world and eat each delicacy of every city?” At first, I didn’t know if they were being sarcastic or serious. Then I answered with a yes, and before I knew it we were of to the outskirts of the city and into the dessert on our way to travel the world, welcome to Global village, a cultural extravaganza in the region that offers an amazing array of festivals, shopping & entertainment. Here you can eat, explore, burn all the calories wawy and then eat some more while immersing in different cultures!

 

 

 

 

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and it’s the second most congested city in the UAE. Most of the time it can be overlooked by since majority of the times people visit the UAE is strictly to experience Dubai. I am guilty of being part of that statistic. On my first visit to the UAE, I was only in Dubai, yes my group of friend’s and I did have plans to visit the capital, but it wasn’t on our priority list. However, if it wasn’t for a close friend of mine residing in Abu Dhabi, I probably would’ve never even heard or thought of going in the first place.

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When people publish stories about the U.A.E., the country is almost always represented entirely by Dubai, and its almost always reduced to a glitzy, two-dimensional backdrop: a suitably strange, foreign Elsewhere, chock-full of easy signifiers of the “very old” dark-skinned men in robes, desert sand and the “futuristic” (Lamborghinis, postmodern architecture). It is mostly taken away the fact that hard work and labor brought a whole lot of opportunities to a large range of people living there today.

It wasn’t until my second visit, I did a little more research about the capital, and it was then that I knew I couldn’t leave the UAE without giving it a visit.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque This is the largest and most unique designed mosque in the UAE. With marble domes and a distinctive layout, this is definitely a place to experience in person. When I arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes, this place was so majestic and made with such detail focus, it took me a while to take it all in. There is a modest dress code for the Mosque as it is a place of prayer. Islamic values are respected and follow certain steps and rules when visiting the mosque:

  • Women should have scarves covering their hair, a long dress and long sleeve top, not low in neckline, transparent or clingy or wear a shaila and abaya, which will cover you fully. Also, and Abaya, long dress, will be given to you if you do not have the appropriate attire.
  • Men should not wear shorts at all. Long pants and shirts are fine.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Never enter a mosque in shoes. You can remove these and place them in cubbies, if not put in a tie bag and keep at your side.
  • Do not eat or drink there especially in Ramadhan (In public) and on normal days, as the Mosque is not a place for eating (Etiquette and respect).
  • Do not take photos of people without their permission. It is not allowed as far as I know.
  • Men are not allowed in areas of the women’s section where women pray.
  • Do not walk in front of people praying.

 

Presidential Palace, Abu DhabiThis landmark helps to emphasize Abu Dhabi’s role as a leader within the UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The Palace is utilized to house the offices of The President, The Vice President, The Crown Prince, and the Ministers. I found it interesting, unlike other countries, this palace could only be viewed from the beautiful outer gate. You are not allowed to take pictures or enter into the outer gate. However, I still enjoyed seeing the presidential and royal setting with all the flags and beautiful designed entrance gate and well-manicured lawns and flowers.

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Do’s and Don’ts:
Don’t go the UAE without two empty pages in passport: I had the opportunity to experience a whole lot of this city, more than I had planned, due to unexpected circumstances. Once I was leaving to catch a flight to my next destination, I had my boarding pass printed out. Suddenly, the airport staff takes my boarding pass and tear it right in the middle and told me I couldn’t fly to India. My mother was right next to me and was issued the approval to fly without me.

Dubai Airport is very strict and abides by every rule in the book. With that being said, due to my passport not having two empty pages to stamp, I was not able to leave to India since they require at least one empty page for visa stamps upon arrival at the airport. Without those two pages, I wouldn’t be able to enter India, nevertheless, leave Dubai.

**Quick Tip**
*If you find yourself in this situation, quickly make an appointment at your embassy located in Dubai, and apply for an “Emergency Passport”. Reminder: They are closed Friday’s and Saturday’s and re-open on Sunday’s*

Don’t: Be drunk and disorderly in public is unacceptable, and may result in a fine or worse.

Don’t: beckon (wave,signal) or point with your finger, instead use the whole hand

Do’s: Residents and visitors should dress modestly, particularly in conservative areas and public places.

Do’s: Accept invitations from residents

With all being said, passion is what drives me to continue to experience cultures and the unknown. Before I traveled to the UAE, I was one of those who thought it was just all glitz and glamour of a city and that Dubai was its own country. It’s pretty powerful what traveling can teach you, more than books, classes and TV shows. With it’s future plans to continue to grow, connect and expand, Dubai is doing more than just building a strong economy, but it is also bringing everyone form everywhere together.


Many have asked if they can join me on my travels. It is quite impossible to bring everyone along with me. That is why I wanted to make the impossible, possible. By creating a personalized itinerary based off my experiences, I am excited to share with you a Travel Package that will allow you to Travel With Curls! Experience Dubai, everything mentioned in this post and more! I’ll be looking forward to your stories!

 

Click on the link to see itinerary and email

Travelwithcurls@gmail.com to receive quote!

Click Link to receive itinerary:Travel Dubai


Watch more of my adventures on my Youtube Channel:

Travel With Curls

 

 

 

MiKasa Beauty

MiKasa Beauty Get 25% Off Using Coupon Code: TWITHCURLS25


Never did I imagine I would be writing about makeup products on my blog, never say never right? This is a first but definitely not my last. It was fun experimenting the different makeup brushes on my skin. I made sure to test the brushes for over two weeks before I began on writing this post. First of all, I do not want to write or share something I do not test on myself, and also strongly believe in. Without further ado, I introduce to you ladies the makeup brushes that have changed the way I apply makeup. I am a woman who does not wear much makeup; heck makeup is one of my least favorite hobbies. However, I know of the importance to having some level of knowledge about it, as women we should be aware of valuable and good quality beauty products shouldn’t we?

Before MiKasa Beauty contacted me to try some of their brushes, I was using a combination of makeup utensils, from generic to branded makeup brushes. My skin is ultra sensitive, and because of its sensitivity, I had to be mindful on which brushes I use. With that being said, I was skeptical on trying out these new makeup brushes on my skin that I haven’t even heard of or seen in stores before. I did some research and found out that they are based out of Vancouver, British Columbia and work closely with makeup professionals, therefore they have to select high quality brush hair and materials for the handle and ferrule. Then I though to myself, if makeup artists are using these brushes, let’s give it a shot.

Sometimes in life we have to be risk takers, if not, then how will we know there is something better out there waiting for us. I decided to be a risk taker and use these products on myself. First time I used it, I made sure that when I applied my liquid foundation on, it didn’t leave crease marks on my face, that’s important! Well, guess what, with the first couple of strokes, it had already passed the test. Second, I made sure no brush bristles were left behind, and guess what, non were seen after I finished applying my liquid foundation.

I then decided to use their other brushes that they offer to complete my daily natural look. I used their eyebrow brush, eye shadow, foundation, powder, blush and bronzer brushes. I have to admit, I was impressed! I am very picky when it comes to using products that make contact with my skin, especially the face area.

It’s been almost a month now and I am still happily using MiKasa’s Beauty products! I have even decided to start expanding and buying other products that they sell such as cleaning tools for the brushes, bodyography cosmetics and nail products! Want to have an experience of MiKasa’s beauty products yourself?

Get 25% Off Using Coupon Code: TWITHCURLS25 and give it a try yourself, who knows, you might end up like me loving these products! If you end up testing these product out, let me know how they worked for you, I would love to hear about you experience 🙂

Why Travel?

Traveling is an experience of a lifetime…..

My recent posts only share my travel adventures; however, I wanted to take it a step deeper and get rooted into the base of it all. Why travel? Let’s break it down a bit. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t travel right? Long lines at the airport leading to security, it can be expensive, you have to buy a whole new wardrobe depending on the climate difference or just travel essentials you might not have. Wait, you can’t forget about the endless number of hours searching for good deals on hotels, flight tickets and planning your whole travel itinerary. Heck, traveling is time consuming and a money eater!

Yes, I may sound like a pessimist and hypocrite right now since I am a travel blogger, but just wait… there is always light at the end of the tunnel 😉 In addition, many times all of the bad is oddly or rarely mentioned. Just the good and the positive things are shared and the end result of it all. For instance, one of my trips to Oslo last year, I ended up experiencing a 10-hour delay, which made me miss my connecting flight. Long story short, I ended up going on an unexpected trip to Moscow for a quick vodka shot before heading over to my initial point of destination. Okay, okay… I was just being stereotypical there; but come on; I know you were thinking it!

Needless to say, I only documented my end result journey, which included how marvelous my time spent in Oslo was. Included in my post, I shared the beautiful scenery of the city that I saw throughout my journey. But the process of getting there was a sleepless and hectic one. Yes, traveling is not as seamless and glorious as many people portray it to be. Even myself… guilty!

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Once I’m on that flight, the pilot has taken all necessary measures for departure and makes the announcement for all flight attendants to be seated for takeoff, my heart starts racing and I start to low-key panic. I begin to voice out my own thoughts under my breath, “why do I keep on doing this to myself when I know I am afraid of flying?!” The thought of my arrival at my destination throughout the duration of the time that I am thousands and thousands of feet up in the air, keeps me sane and focused while I am sunken into my seat on the plane. Once the captain’s voice appears in the intercom and announces our preparation for landing, my heart skips a beat. This isn’t due to my anxiety, but by the excitement of landing and embarking on my travels.

Lia with I love Sweet Studio Photography

As I previously mentioned, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Let it begin. The thought of experiencing the unknown gets my adrenaline going. Once I step off the plane and breathe in crisp, new air full of endless opportunities, I know adventures and new knowledge await me. I completely forget about the emotional drain the process of arriving had caused me. Then, I am ready to experience an adventure of a lifetime.

Fabricia Ramiro Photography

Traveling, to me, can be best defined as an investment for a lifetime, filled with stories to tell. I also view travelling as an investment for personal growth. I can assure you that once you travel outside of your comfort zone, your life will change forever. Why do I express with my opinion such certainty?  Because once you arrive at a new place your body is unaware of, survival mode kicks in and your mind and body automatically opens up to what awaits. You start to notice the differences in the lifestyle, languages and food. Overall, you start to experience and be part of a different culture. It’s an experience like no other… far beyond what you would’ve imagined before embarking on such a journey.

Human beings are wired to always want more after experiencing something that is out-of-the-ordinary. It is similar to when one first start training. The process of adjusting and seeing results can be time consuming and somewhat draining to the body; however, once results start to appear and are visible, you start feeling better internally and externally. One then begins to grow more confident throughout the process. Our bodies begin to ask for more and more training, which provides a consistent, healthier lifestyle. Very similar when you travel, once you experience a taste outside of the ordinary, you immediately want to experience more. Including culture, more knowledge of a different setting, lifestyle, food, etc. That’s when you start to see the world in a different way.

You begin to realize there is much more to life than your little town where you grew up. There are more people out there to meet and discover other than your own group of friends. You will be surprised what happens once you open your mind to experience different cultures. You’ll come to find out that regardless of the cultural differences, there are many similarities and interests in common shared amongst the locals of the city you visit.

After reading some articles about traveling, there are some points that are mentioned repeatedly. I will be sharing with you some points I can relate with, as well as my personal touch and experience to each of the following points:

Why travel?

One of the BIGGEST and obvious changes about myself that I noticed after I started traveling was becoming a better conversationalist. You can seriously pick up a conversation and connect with just anyone you meet, no matter what his or her professional background is. When traveling, you become a lot more attentive to your surroundings and the people around you. Picking up a conversation with a person from another background in the city of travel destination helps one become much more open-minded, less judgmental and gives you the boost of confidence needed to strike a conversation.

Personal Tip:

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There is going to be some moments during your travels where you might feel out of place or home sick; trust me, this will happen. Accept the change! Once you accept the change in time, climate and culture, your body will slowly start to adapt to the changes. You will also, slowly break out of your shell and welcome in new experiences, friendships and lifelong memories!

Traveling is easier than you think

Many have asked me how I can travel so much when traveling is not cheap? There are many things in our daily lives that we either consume or wear that is not cheap or the smartest buys. Sometimes we have to draw out wants and needs to see which one of our frequent purchases should we eliminate. By doing this, we can put that money into a travel savings account. If you make time to go out to drink, eat, shop, you can make time to travel. It’s up to you to make the dream come true and to take the first step.

Travel opens your eyes

Once you see this world has more to offer, you will start to see things in a wider lens vision. Instead of focusing on the obvious, you’ll start to open your mind and notice the bigger picture. Once the wide lens glasses are put on, you’ll never want to take them off. If you’re open and willing, travel will make you a more incredibly well rounded human being. Surely that’s the end goal, right?

Traveling helps you learn who you are

Sometimes when isolated, you hear your own thoughts and you voice becomes clearer to you. When you travel, your refresh button is turned on. Your mind starts to wonder on your goals, dreams and ambitions. This is because you accomplished something great by just travelling!  YOU got yourself there, meaning that if you use the same energy, discipline and planning, you are capable of doing beyond of what you can imagine. You learn what your passion is and what your strengths and weakness are.

Travel helps you learn new languages

Hearing a language that you didn’t know existed just a few weeks before is an incredible feeling. It’s like light bulb has turned one and it stays on. You notice that learning different languages to converse with the locals is fun and a great icebreaker too! Who need Rosetta Stone when you have the locals of each country out there eager to share their culture with you. But don’t forget, if you don’t use it… you’ll lose it!

Traveling gives you perspective

Meeting people from other cultures will teach you that the way you’ve been looking at the world is not always the way everyone else does. In fact, your point-of-view might have some major blind spots. Seeing the world for yourself will improve your vision and improve your grip on reality. In the end, it will help us become less judgmental and more understanding; hence, steering us away from ethnocentrism.

Travel is education

Are you not a fan of school and can’t remember the last time you opened a book to read? When you travel, you have an endless amount of information that is out there, ready for you to discover! Seeing the world provides an education that’s absolutely impossible get in school. Travel teaches you economy, politics, history, geography and sociology in an intense, hands-on way no class will.

Travel challenges you

Getting lost alone at 2 AM in a completely different country, where a different language is spoken, is scary. You start thinking the worst and panic starts to creep on you. However, when you later find a solution, and only you were the one to get yourself out of that lonely situation. Later, this experience becomes a comic story to share with friends. Travel is full of moments of joy and challenges. Overcoming the challenges gives you some of the greatest joys of all.

Travel is literally food for thought

Taste the world’s delicacies while traveling around the world that will give you a variety of delicious options to choose from. Your taste buds won’t believe what they’ve been missing out of this whole time! You will experience the way people in other cultures and countries prepare food. The best part is breaking bread together… it’s astounding!

At the end, traveling helps you realize, that home is not a place, but where the heart is….

 Fabricia Ramiro Photography

Did you enjoy this T R A V E L  U N R A V E L E D series? Want to read more on topics that interest you about traveling? Send us an e-mail at: Travelwithcurls@gmail.com with your request. I would love to feature you in my next post!

Touch Down in London Town PT I

“To Travel is to Live” – Hans Christian Andersen

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Touch- down in London-town! After a 7-hour flight, my legs were ready to sprint out of the plane and smell the fish & chips in the air (funny thing is I don’t even like fish & chips). It was lunchtime when I arrived and I was craving everything in sight. I had only two days in this beautiful city until it was time to catch the next flight. What to do in such a big city with so little time? Lets face it, there is never a dull moment in London, the options are endless. Once I stepped off the plane, I ran over to passport control and was welcomed back to London by one of the friendliest officers EVER! We had such a nice chat, I felt we needed a table to sit at and continue our conversation over a cup of tea.

As I was walking over to the baggage claim area, my heart started beating faster and faster, hoping my luggage made it over. Once I got closer to the conveyor belt, a big smile from ear to ear appeared on my face because my bag was one of the first to come out – YES! Now it’s time to Travel With Curls! I had a busy agenda ahead of me so needing to balance both work and pleasure, I decided to stay in the heart of London where commuting was much faster and more convenient.

**Fun Fact**
All London airports have easy access into the city either via train or underground (metro). Avoid taking cabs and travel with the locals by using public transportation.

I rushed over to the Gatwick Airport train station, purchased my one-way ticket to London Victoria and embarked on my journey. Once I arrived at the hotel, I freshened up and got ready to head out to meet with one of my good old friends, Jack, for lunch. A little bit about this hotel –  from the outside you would never guess it’s a hotel because it blends in so well with the other buildings and has a very traditional British look. I felt as if I was a local walking in and out of my apartment. After a nice shower and change of clean clothes, I walked over to London Victoria Station.

What is the best thing about Central London? Walking! You are constantly on your feet, walking from the underground, to trains and busses. It’s always a cardio session so you get to burn off all the delicious food this wonderful city has to offer. In London, there isn’t only pub-crawling, but also food-hopping. Talk about having best of both worlds, right? Before I had the chance to step out of the hotel I glanced out the window and noticed the rain coming down.

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**Quick Tip**
ALWAYS carry a mini-umbrella with you before heading out to Central London. One minute it could be warm and sunny, the next minute it’s cold and raining. The weather is nothing you can control, but definitely something you can be prepared for.

Luckily, the front desk came to the rescue and handed me an umbrella to borrow for the day. The 7-minute walk to the station was quite a peaceful one. Hearing the raindrops fall on the umbrella, feeling the cold breeze on my skin and enjoying the view of the white pearl buildings with grey skies was a great way to start my day. Although it wasn’t paradise weather, London still looked beautiful in its own majestic way.

 

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Once I entered the station I met up with Jack and he asked if I wanted to take a cab over to the restaurant. I refused and suggested we should walk and take public transportation instead. I get to know and really feel the city a lot more on my feet. After a ride on the underground and some light walking, we arrived at our destination – a hole in the wall Peruvian restaurant calledTierra Peru. In the back of my mind I was asking myself why would Jack, knowing that I am Hispanic, take me to a Latin restaurant? I have traveled overseas to experience different cultures and try their delicacies.

**Fun Fact**
London has a restaurant to suit just every cuisine in the world! If your taste buds are feeling Asian or Italian, you will have a plethora of choice to choose from – just take your pick!

Sure enough I was left speechless! Not only was the food finger-licking good, but the service was also exceptional. They treated us as if we were family visiting their home. The service is given by the owner’s themselves – WOW! Our server shared with us how much they’ve missed Peru. Him and his family turned the love for their home into a family owned business and brought a taste of Peru right to the heart of London. Not only did they want to bring a peace of home with them, they wanted to share it with others too. We all know food is the best way to bring people from different backgrounds together. With a lack of words, this place definitely hit the mind, body and soul

 

So many laughs and great conversations were exchanged,. After awhile, we looked at the time and decided to move forward with our next journey – Hello London Pubs! You can’t go wrong with stepping foot into a pub. Yes, of course people go to pubs to have a beer or two, or maybe three, or they might even want to completely lose recollection of that night, but the London pubs offer so much more than just beer!

Walking into any pub is like opening the doors to a British History museum. The interior and décors are a very traditional, British style which makes me feel as if I have time travelled back in time. I look for authenticity and originality during my travels so I definitely experience it when I walk into a UK pub. Now, what to drink when there are so many options? Personally, I’ve never experienced the love for cider until I moved to the UK. Bulmer’s cider is a must-have for sure!

Our night was coming to an end and we wanted to end it strong. We made our way over to Brixton town. Brixton is a lively, multi-cultural area with a down-to-earth vibe. What better way to end the night in such an upbeat area, right? Once we arrived toBrixton, we started making our way over to the HootanannyRaucous music venue with mouth-watering food. After all that walking, we weren’t only thirsty, but HANGRY as well. A personal pie pizza never looked so good!

To think, this whole adventure happened the same day I arrived! It was time to call it a night after the pipe musician finished his set; this guy was on fire. Up on stage with a kilt skirt on and blowing the crowd away with his breathtaking, piping-playing skills, it was something my eyes and ears had to capture before I departed. London you are truly one of a kind

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Stay tuned for London Pt II….

Continue reading “Touch Down in London Town PT I”