Destinations, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Tips and Tricks, Washington, DC

Don’t Go It’s A Tourist Trap

Don’t you hate it when you ask for travel advice and someone tells you not to go to the one place that you have always wanted to go because it is a tourist trap? Whether it is The Empire State Building in New York, The White House in Washington, D.C., or The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, tourists spots are popular for the simple fact that tourists want the experience that they have to offer. It’s no wonder that tourism is a multi-million dollar business.

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Standing across the street from the touristy La Bodeguita del Medio in Cuba.

I get that we want people to have an authentic experience when they visit a destination, but I always encourage first time visitors to do all of the touristy things just in case you don’t get a chance to go back again. The next time you visit the same destination, I say you should explore the off the beaten path hidden gems. I grew up in San Francisco which is one of the most touristy destinations in the United States. Whenever family and friends visited San Francisco they wanted to go on the cable cars, view the Golden Gate Bridge, and go to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was always happy to oblige because my hometown is a beautiful city and I love to show it off. I am also a big fan of the hop on hop off buses like Big Bus which lets you visit all of the touristy spots in one day at your leisure. Click on the link to book your tickets in advance.

The next time someone tries to dissuade you from seeing a popular tourist destination just politely thank them, then ask if they can offer helpful tips for getting around the long lines and the crowds.

What touristy spots have you been told not to visit during your travels? Share them in the comment section. Remember to like, subscribe, and share!

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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.

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. 

sea sunny beach sand
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.

Kit box

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!

Airports, Tips and Tricks, Washington, DC

Traveling to and from Washington, D.C. airports

 

woman sitting holding smartphone between two men and two women
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Washington, D.C. is an international destination year-round. The city is constantly overrun by tourists who attend conventions, political affairs, and vacations. The DMV area is very fortunate to have 3 major airports: DCA/Reagan National, Dulles, and BWI/Baltimore-Washington International. BWI is actually closer to Baltimore which is a 45 minute drive north of D.C. The other two airports are in Virginia. Dulles is the farthest out and is about 45 minutes outside of D.C. to the south. My preferred airport is DCA which is directly accessible by Metro. Below I will give you the pros and cons of each mode of transportation to and from Dulles and National. You can read about my unfortunate travel snafu where I had to change airports on the fly by clicking here.

Uber

While there are several different ride share companies in the market the two most popular ones in DMV area are Uber and Lyft. As a matter of fact, most drivers are signed up to work for both companies in tandem. I happened to sign up for Uber first so that is the company that I use most when I need to use a ride sharing service. I used Uber to go out to Dulles airport when I was traveling to New Mexico last month and was able to secure a SUV using the new express pool for $35.00. The express pool requires you to walk to a nearby location to get picked up. Fortunately my pick up area is right in front of my building so I still got door to door service for a lower price. We also did not need to make additional stops for other passengers. The con is that my driver took all of the back roads as he waited to see if he could pick up more passengers. We could have been to the airport sooner if he had taken the direct route and I probably wouldn’t have missed my flight.

My recommendation: If you take Uber to the airport you should definitely find the option that works best for you.  You can get a free Uber ride and I will automatically get a ride for free! Use my code damaabui.

Supershuttle

Years ago SuperShuttle was the best way to get to the airport, but over the years their rates have increased and their competition has grown. My return flight from New Mexico was going to land after midnight so rather than call an Uber I opted to schedule a SuperShuttle. Like Uber Pool, SuperShuttle is a shared ride service. The pro was that I would be able to secure a confirmed rate which was pretty much the same as what my Uber was getting to the airport. The con was that we had to wait for all of the other passengers to arrive before we leave the airport. And, since it is a pool you have to drop off other passengers before you finally get home. I was fortunate that I was the second passenger dropped off but I still didn’t arrive home until close to 2:00 A.M. on a work day.

My recommendation: Use only if you are not in a hurry to get to your destination. One of the reasons that I prefer to not use ride sharing pools is because I like to go straight from point A to point B. 

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Metro

One of the most cost effective ways to travel to and from the airport is by using Metro. The main reason that DCA is my favorite airport to fly out of is the close proximity to D.C. The Metro literally stops right at the airport. Once you exit the Metro station you are pretty much in the airport.

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However, taking the Metro to Dulles is a bit more complimented. If you are taking the Metro from the airport you will need to purchase a $5.00 ticket for a shuttle bus that will take you to the Reston Metro station. You will then need to walk from the drop off location to the station to catch the Silver line.

My recommendation: Unless you are going to DCA I would skip the Metro option. Taking Metro from D.C. into Dulles requires too much time and energy. 

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Taxi

I intentionally listed taxi’s last. They are probably the worst possible way to travel in D.C. When I first moved to D.C. to attend graduate school they weren’t even metered so the drivers would charge you by the zone. It always felt like we were getting ripped off. Now the cabs are metered and you can use one of the online taxi calculators to estimate your fare at Taxi Wiz or Taxi Calculator.

What are the best ways to get to and from the airport in your city? Share below in the comments section.