Tips and Tricks

5 of My Favorite Travel Accessories for 2019

The holidays are a great time to catch amazing sales on travel accessories. Here are a few  items that I picked during the 2018 Christmas holiday. Most of the items are still on sale so if you want them then keep reading to find out where to buy them.

Torrid Belt Bag
Belt Bag from Torrid

Fanny packs are all the rage right now but I love this stylish belt bag that literally doubles as a belt but is large enough to hold my phone, money, ID, and lipgloss. I was excited to find something that is compact enough to be inconspicuous while traveling but large enough to fit around my larger waist. Available at Torrid.

Plaid tote bag
Plaid tote bag

Plaid is one of the hottest trends this season and I admittedly have gone plaid crazy. So when I saw this stylish plaid tote bag on sale I had to snatch it up. The bag is large enough to hold your laptop and other work essentials or to use as a carry on bag when traveling. Available at Dress Barn

Last Call Passport Holders
Passport Holders from Neiman Marcus Last Call

I’ve been on the hunt for a cute passport cover for a while but couldn’t find one that I absolutely loved. Neiman Marcus Last Call had an amazing sale on travel accessories. I found not one but 3 cute passport holders for less than $10 each! Last Call offer a wide assortment of colors and styles as well. Available at Neiman Marcus Last Call

Nest Black Tulip
Nest Black Tulip parfume and mini candle from Sephora

A travel tip that I learned years ago was to bring a scented candle with you when you are staying in a hotel to counter lingering odors and stagnant air. This Nest set is the perfect size for traveling. Inside is a 0.2 oz/ 6 mL Eau de Parfum Mini Rollerball and a 0.95 oz/ 27 g Scented Candle that are small enough to take up only a fraction of your travel bag. Available at Sephora

Flowerbomb mini set
Flowerbomb Mini Set from Sephora

I love the smell of floral scents with just a hint of spice. Flowerbomb is a long time favorite for delivering that delicate combination of olfactory delight. This mini set contains 2 x 0.24 oz/ 7 mL Eau de Parfum minis, a 0.51 oz/ 15 mL Shower Gel, and a 0.51 oz/ 15 mL Body Lotion that make it super to easy to throw in your travel bag and hit the airport. Available at Sephora

What is your can’t live without travel accessory? Share in the comments sections. Remember to like, subscribe, and share.

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Destinations, Hotels, Philadelphia

How I Spent 48 hours in Philadelphia

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Travel back in time when you visit Old City Philadelphia © Dec 2017, D. Bell

It is amazing how being away from a bad situation can provide you with much needed perspective. Last year during my winter break I planned a quick jaunt to Philadelphia. I had never been to Philadelphia and I didn’t really know anyone there, however I spent the first few days of my break mulling around my apartment not doing much. I was determined to end the year by going somewhere. I had to get out of  Washington, D.C. which was where I lived at the time. Someone had posted about the Kimpton Hotels brand and I dreamed (no, literally) about their Fiji soaking tubs. I know some people get really grossed out by hotel bathtubs, but I always bring my own cleaning products when I travel so I cleaned it well before I used it.

I can’t deny that the trip to Philly was rough. First I scheduled and missed a couple of buses. The bus that I finally made was late because the driver had to go all the way to Baltimore to get his license. I kid you not! To add insult to injury there was high drama on the bus, but I was determined to get to Philadelphia. Word to the wise, never take Greyhound if you have another option available. There are other bus companies that provide much better service.

When we finally pulled into the bus terminal in Philadelphia, it was too late to sightsee so I requested an Uber (I could have walked but it was freezing and I had no idea where I was.) Once I was checked into my hotel room I headed upstairs to have a cocktail at the hotel’s swaggy rooftop lounge. The lounge only offered small bites and I was voraciously hungry so I headed back down to the main floor to eat dinner at the Red Owl Tavern.

After a full day of stressful bus travel I was exhausted, so I headed back to my room  recorded a room tour, took a shower, and went to bed. The nighttime views from my 9th floor corner suite were stunning! On one side there’s a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge  and on the other side there’s Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. In the interest of full disclosure, the bell atop Independence Hall rings every hour on the hour. You can see the nighttime view from my room by watching my room tour video on Youtube.

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Kimpton Monaco Hallway © Dec 2017, D. Bell

When I woke up the next morning I looked out of the window and I thought I was Alice in Wonderland trapped inside of a giant snow globe! Snowflakes whizzed past my window and everything below was blanketed with a fresh white coat of snow.

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A snow covered Independence Hall as seen from my hotel room © Dec 2017, D. Bell

While it snowed outside I took a long luxurious soak in the Fiji soaking tub. It was everything I imagined it to be!  All of my cares and worries melted away and the stress that previously had my  muscles tight and knotted seemed to dissolve. When I emerged from the tub I felt like a new woman. I brought my own bath salts, but the products provided by the hotel, Atelier Bloem, are quite amazing and have a refreshing clean scent to them.

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Fiji Soaking Tub in King Corner Spa Suite © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I did a little sightseeing after lounging around the room all morning. I visited Independence Hall but because of the inclement weather there weren’t many tourist out. I crossed the street to visit the Liberty Bell where a line of visitors waited patiently in the cold to get inside of the building where the bell is housed. I was starving afterward so I grabbed a pizza from down the street to bring back to the room for dinner. I relaxed in my room for the rest of the evening.

The next day I needed to check out by noon, but not before I indulged in one more luscious bath in the amazing soaking tub. I planned to stay in Philly to watch the early fireworks show at Penn’s Landing but the temperatures were too frigid so I decided to change my bus reservation so I could leave about an hour and half after my scheduled check out time.

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Corner Newsstand in Philadelphia © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I still managed to have enough time to have coffee at the Cosi down the street from the hotel then wander the streets of Old City until I reached Penn’s Landing. I hopped on the SEPTA for $2.50 and rode the subway down to 30th Street station where I got on the Mega Bus and had an relaxing and uneventful ride back to Washington, D.C.

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They still used tokens. I think they were being phased out © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I definitely want to go back to Philly once the temperature begins to warm up.  It’s an often overlooked tough little city with a lot of moxie and great architecture. The vibe of the city is primarily working class and unpretentious. People for the most part are chilled. It felt like a mix of New York, Jersey, and Baltimore.

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Eagles fans on the SEPTA enjoying a cold brew on a cold day © Dec 2017, D. Bell

Philly has the history of D.C. but the personality of New York. I love it! I want to experience the other areas of the city and I want to see how it operates during a typical work week. This trip was the highlight of my year and I am so glad that I bit the bullet and decided to go. I had two other trips booked and planned earlier in the year but I canceled them. I think it was a bit easier to navigate this trip because it was still relatively close to home. Want to see more photos from my visit? Click here.

I would love for you to follow and subscribe for more travel related content. Please leave a comment below. 

~Ciao!

Destinations

Travel Goals – Mid-year review

This year I was determined to travel more. I finally got over my travel anxiety and made it happen. Nike was right…sometimes you have to “just do it!” I am so glad that I not only booked the two trips that I took this year to New Mexico and Cuba, but that I followed through and actually went on the trips! Both experiences have been life affirming and the timing was perfect for the transitions that are happening in my life.

Next year will be a milestone birthday for me. I have been waiting for this birthday because I figured by the time I reached this point in my life I would have it all together. Well, life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at us to keep us on our toes and I am ready for my new chapter. I pray that it involves as much travel as possible.

Upward and onward!

What are your travel goals for 2018? Share them in the comments section. Remember to like, share, and subscribe for more travel related content. 

Tips and Tricks

Is Your Passport a Status Symbol

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Six years ago I obtained my first adult passport, however it wasn’t my first passport. I got my first passport when I was a child. Tomorrow I will finally use my passport to travel out of the country. Everywhere you look on social media it seems as if friends are flashing their passports. The US passport gives you access to so many different countries, so Americans often consider their passport a status symbol of softs.

In 2012 I stumbled upon the Passport Party Project, a grassroots effort led by fellow California native Tracey Friley. Tracey put out a call for bloggers to attend the annual Passport Day in New York. At the time I was publishing a blog called Uptownflavor and I thought that it would be for my readers to learn how to go about obtaining a passport. I attended the tour on March 10 and applied for my passport on the same day. I had my passport in my hand within a week. It was processed in 3 days! One of my recommendations is to get your passport during what is considered the slow season. If you wait until right before summer break or the holidays when most people travel you are setting yourself up for frustration. I wrote about my experience touring the passport facility and getting my passport on Black Atlas and Examiner.com (both now defunct online publications).

By participating in the Passport Party Project and Passport Day, I learned that the number of Americans traveling internationally was significantly lower than citizens of other countries like the UK and Canada. Over the past six years the number of Americans holding a valid passport has increased and the numbers continue to steadily climb each year. However, the number of African Americans with a passport is still low.

You’re probably wondering now how you can you get your first passport. Well, you can attend one of the many acceptance events in your area. Find one near you by clicking on the link below.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/passports/special-passport-acceptance-fairs.html

Be sure to bring:

  • A completed DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport form, which can be found at the   Department of State website at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.htmlDo not sign the form.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship.
  • Proof of identity (valid driver’s license, government employee ID, military ID).
  • Photocopies of U.S. citizenship and identification documents (these will be sent with the application, but bring originals for proof documentation).
  • Appropriate payment. Acceptable forms of payment can be found on the Department of State website. (Please note that neither debit nor credit cards are acceptable forms of payment by the Department of State).
  • Appropriate passport photo, if passport photo services are not available at the selected Post Office location.

Passport applications for children under 16 have special requirements. Visit travel.state.gov for more information.

When and how did you get your first passport?  Share your passport story in the comments section. Remember to like, share, and subscribe for more travel related content. 

#powerofthepassport

Tips and Tricks

Last Minute Father’s Day Gifts

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase something from one of the links clicked on I will receive a small percentage which will then be used to support this site. 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

OK, let’s admit it, being a dad can be a thankless job. As a result fathers often get the short end of the stick when it comes to holidays. Every Father’s Day dads around the country lament that they get the same ole’  tired gifts…shirts, ties, or tools.  I’m sure dear old dad will appreciate having something different this year, and if you happen to be dear old dad then you can take advantage of some of the special Father’s Day discounts below to enjoy all year round.

Take your dad to Ripley’s and receive 25% off all locations (excludes Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and Ripley’s Red and Ghost Trains in St. Augustine). Use promo code: DAD from 6/12-6/17

Get him a gift as special as him! Save 25% on all Ripley’s locations with code DAD. Offer is valid 6/12-6/17.

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Is your dad an avid coffee drinker? This Father’s Day, Driftaway Coffee is offering a limited-time promotion on all coffee gift subscriptions.  Customers can save 10% by using the coupon code DAD10 during checkout. 

Father’s Day – 10% Off Coffee Gift Subscription
Coupon Code: DAD10 Coupon expires June 19, 2018.

Static-Box

The gift that keeps on giving is access to thousands of airport lounges around the world. Get your dad Priority Pass so he can relax between flights when traveling for business or pleasure. Take advantage of the Father’s Day special below.

Give your Dad a Priority Pass membership—the gift of an elevated travel experience.

Happy Father’s Day!