Win a FREE Trip!

Woman in white pants sittign in front of Tulum sign in Mexico

When I started this blog 7 years ago, I used to share vacation sweepstakes on a weekly basis. Looking for great giveaway trips was time-consuming, but I did it because I thought it was a way for persons to visit parts of the world they might not have had the chance to experience on their own dime.

Well, life got busy, and since I didn’t see too much traffic to that section of my site, I stopped doing it. But now, with so much pent-up demand to escape our troubles and changed financial situations due to the year we all just had (and continue to navigate), I decided to bring the sweepstakes back!

So here goes…

The Sandals and Beaches Giveaway Sweepstakes.

Prize:

A 4-day, 3-night getaway! *Airfare is not included.

3 Ways to Enter:
1. Go to www.sandals.com/sweepstakes OR www.beaches.com/sweepstakes and follow the links and instructions.
2. Sign up for the Friend Referral Program, which allows you to enter the name and email address of up to 5 friends. You get one additional entry for any of them that enters.
3. Click on the link from their online ads.

Eligibility: Open to legal residents of the US and Canada.

Deadline: September 30, 2021

Saint Lucia’s Ultimate Romance Giveaway

St. Lucia Tourism Authority is giving away THREE couples trips this fall.

Prize:
A 7 night all-inclusive stay, roundtrip airfare, airport transfers, island excursions and gourmet dining.

How to enter:
Looks like it’s as simple as submitting your email address and agreeing to join their mailing list to receive info on events and specials. But don’t quote me on that, eh? Go to their website: www.stlucia.org/UltimateRomanceGiveaway for complete entry details and the sweepstakes’ terms and conditions.

Eligibility: Residents, 18 years and older, of the UK, US and Canada.

Deadline: August 4.

6 Socially distanced Spring Break ideas for families

Two chairs by the water

Are you totally stressed out after a year of mostly home confinement which has only been broken up by routine visits to the supermarket, doctor’s office, gas station or drug store? Well, you are not alone.   Many families feel the exact same way and are desperately seeking socially distanced spring break ideas for a much-needed getaway. While attitudes about travel vary widely right now, there are ways to lower your risk if you decide to break free from the monotony to preserve your mental health this year.  

Before I share some of my socially distanced spring break ideas, let me first encourage you to:

  • Follow established mask wearing and social distancing guidelines.
  • Get tested before and after your trip.
  • Stick to road trips as driving offers the most controlled means of transportation.
  • Plan outdoor adventures.

Rent a remote cabin

Itching to swap your concrete jungle for more enticing scenery that’s free from smog, loud neighbors and honking horns? Drop off the Wi-Fi grid and rent a remote cabin in the mountain or woods to totally unplug for a few days. You can read and play games to your heart’s content or explore nature trails on foot or by bike.

Visit a national or state park

Being outdoors creates fantastic opportunities for families to relax, bond and have a great time, so please add an RV, van or tent camping family vacation consideration to the mix. Not only will it get you immersed and interacting with nature, but you’ll be able to benefit from the reported health benefits of increased Vitamin D intake, more peaceful sleep, and improved moods.

Go camping

Being outdoors creates fantastic opportunities for families to relax, bond and have a great time, so please add an RV, van or tent camping family vacation consideration to the mix. Not only will it get you immersed and interacting with nature, but you’ll be able to benefit from the reported health benefits of increased Vitamin D intake, more peaceful sleep, and improved moods.

Reserve a beach cottage

Sandy toes, freckled nose. Is there really anything about a sun-drenched beach vacation to oppose? Of course not! A beach cottage is the perfect temporary home base for going swimming or snorkeling, building sandcastles, planning picnics by the shore, or launching kayaks.  And even if paddleboarding or island hopping is more your thing, you can do that too. When you’re by a beach, your relaxation choices are easy.

Take day trips from home

After the year we’ve all had, nearcations or day trips have quickly become a means to obliterating those pesky lockdown blues. There is no denying that the appeal of acquiring a new passport stamp is always tempting, but sometimes cool adventures can be found right outside your front door or city border.  All you have to do is purposefully look for fun, local experiences.

Hop on the houseboat trend

Still undecided? Why not rent a houseboat and get the best of both worlds? With a houseboat you get your very own private suite (kitchen, bathrooms, living room, and sleeping quarters) plus a sweet ride!  It allows you to live on the water, enjoy unlimited watersports and dock wherever and whenever you want.

New travel health apps and tools

Travel health app post hero image

Need help finding Covid-19 testing locations or country requirements for travel? Airlines have started to roll out no touch, secure, and efficient travel health apps and tools to help with trip planning.

VeriFly (American Airlines)

This app allows you to find travel requirements based on your international destination. You can also upload test results for confirmation. Once approved, VeriFLY generates a QR code that is scanned at the gate.

CommonPass (JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss, United, and Virgin Atlantic)

CommonPass is a global platform that travelers will be able to use to access their lab results and vaccination records, then share their health status safely. It will be available in both Apple and Google Play Store.

IATA Travel Pass (Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad)

This IATA initiative is a “digital passport” that will act as a global registry to help travelers find correct information on testing and vaccine requirements for their trips. It’s slated to launch in March 2021.

Travel-Ready Center (within the United app and on United.com)

This center enables customers to upload and validate test results, review local entry requirements, find testing providers, and store vaccination records.

Delta.com’s new online tool

Whether your tip is to Europe, the Caribbean or elsewhere, Delta’s new online tool helps passengers locate testing centers across their international network.

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Do you know of any others? Please share them below.

5 last-minute holiday gift ideas under $60. No shipping required.

YIKES! Christmas is almost here and you still haven’t finished purchasing gifts for all the people on your shopping list. So you desperately need last-minute holiday gift ideas with no shipping required, right?

But wait, there’s more!

You have officially run out of great gift ideas. Your stress level is rising. And your wallet is close to being tapped out. In fact, right this very minute you’re racking your brain trying to figure out how to avoid that awkward moment when you realize you’ve got a nice present from [insert name of Mom, Dad, significant other, family member, co-worker, or friend] and you gave them zilch…nada.  Well technically, you’re on the brink of giving them nothing more than an embarrassed, but authentic, thank you in return.

Oh, dear. It sounds like you need a quick solution! It’s time to embrace the convenience of very budget-friendly digital services and products my friends! Just because these items aren’t lying on retail shelves somewhere doesn’t mean their creators didn’t pour just as much hard work, quality information, and love into them as your favorite hard copy bestselling author did.  Plus, with digital products there is no need to worry about shipping and handling. Or wayward Gringe-like bandits stealing your Christmas Amazon, UPS or USPS delivery from your doorstep.

So, if that’s why you’re here, I GOT U. Below are five of my top suggestions for last-minute holiday gift ideas – all under $60 – with no shipping required.  And they are all available for delivery anytime on or before December 25th…and beyond.

Basic Ass Vegan: Plant-Based Recipes for Beginners

This recently released e-book is packed full of basic, simple, and tasty meals created by home cook Ashley Renee. She’s targeting newbies to the world of plant-based eating and persons who want quick and healthy meal ideas where no fancy chef skills are required. It’ll be great for people wanting to lose weight after the holidays as well.

There are 56 yummy recipes categorized by meal type, like breakfast (think banana pancakes), lunch (Sunflower chic peas sandwiches), dinner (“lobster” rolls using Hearts of Palm as the key ingredient), soups and bowls, smoothies and snacks, and so much more! Ashley also includes information on nutrition basics and pantry essentials for every aspiring vegan household. She even started a Facebook group for lazy vegans & individuals transitioning to the no meat lifestyle.

Cost: $25

Go Remote Guide to 2021

We all know persons who have been adversely affected this year by personal tragedy or financial upheaval. If someone in your circle of influence has talked about looking for a remote position that will allow them to hit the reset button in 2021 by moving overseas, you’ll want to gift them the Remote Work Guide e-book that Gabby Beckford has created.  She did a ton of research on countries with “remote work visa” or “digital nomad visa” programs and came up with a list of 15 with great potential. The list includes, among others, places Dubai, the Republic of Georgia, Mexico, Barbados and Spain.  In addition to the visa requirements, Gabby went ahead and added things like average rent information, WiFi quality and remote job ideas if you have no clue where to start.

Cost: $20

Crush Global Road Trip Itineraries

Okay, so the first two vaccines are now available, but with ‘Rona numbers still spiking chances are many winter and spring vacations are still likely to be road trip based. That’s where Kristin Braswell of Crush Global comes in. Her ready-to-use road trip itineraries include driving routes, immersive activity options tried and tested food spot suggestions, and valuable information Black travelers can use along the way.

Crush Global’s guides have been featured in many national publications like Forbes, Afar and Travel Weekly, so they’re legit. Whether your friends or family members are wine-lovers, food buffs, nature aficionados or history addicts there’ll be something there for them to enjoy.   The road trip guides take you through cities like Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, St Ynez, Paso Robles, New Orleans, Memphis/Nashville, Atlanta and Savannah.

Cost: $29.99 – $59.99

Jurneazee Travel-Themed Activity Pack

Of course, I couldn’t curate a list like this without including Jurneazee, my printable activity pack for persons aged 5 to 65+ that was mentioned in a recent article on NationalGeographic.com about ways families can make the most of their vacation this year.

It’s a boredom-buster combination of coloring pages, crossword puzzles, word-finds, scrambled words and bingo cards that will take solo travelers, couples, multigenerational families, and groups of friends on a virtual trip around the world – keeping everyone engaged and entertained. The best part is, it can be used on a long road trip and just as easily during quiet or boisterous nights at home.

Cost: $16 (Introductory price)

30 Days & 30 Ways To Be a Better Ally

I don’t think anyone can round out this year without acknowledging the onslaught of tragic incidents in the US (and around the world) that brought the matter of deep-rooted systemic racism to the fore. The issues gripped the attention of the nation and rattled previously hardened hearts.  We can only hope that 2021 ushers in a year of greater kindness towards each other, and decisions rooted in love, versus fear or hate. That leads me to my final last-minute holiday gift idea suggestion for you.

Enter Gloria Atanmo, a multihyphenate creator who designed an 85-page digital resource guide to help persons interested in starting a 30-day journey to becoming a more enlightened ally. It is filled with personal stories, conversation starters for the dinner table, eye-opening videos, journal prompts and other resources to help persons understand things from a Black perspective. Gloria is quick to tell you she speaks with Black people, not for all of us, so please include that message caveat in your gift card or note. We are not a monolithic group.

It’s perfect for that office friend, family member, or service provider who has shown a genuine interest in playing their part in the much needed movement towards positive change.

Cost: $17 on sale now (Regular price: $27)

In case, you’re wondering where you can you find these easy-to-access, last-minute holiday gift ideas, just click on the links in each caption!

Happy Holidays, my luvs.

33 Great trip activities you can do with your family and friends

raid trip activity packet for the entire family

Psssst… guess what? I did a thing!

With the help and support of my loving exasperated at my many rounds of edits family, I hunkered down for a few months earlier this year and created JURNEAZEE [pronounced Jurn – easy], my first-ever digital product.

It’s a boredom-buster combination of 33 great trip activities you can do with your family and friends. The full activity pack includes coloring pages, crossword puzzles, word-finds, scrambled words and bingo cards to keep everyone engaged and entertained at home or on long trips.

Why now?

With more people than ever traveling by car and many others choosing to stay home due to safety concerns during a global pandemic, it’s timely.

What does it do?

Jurneazee makes journeys easy by taking the stress out of long trips and transporting users on a virtual expedition around the world.

How does it do that?

The trip activities highlight interesting tidbits about multiple destinations and point out special nuggets on signature events, cool places of interest, local lingo and food. Jurneazee not only relieves boredom – it appeals to the culturally curious traveler inspires wanderlust as well.

Where can you find it?

Right here on my brand new My Travel Stamps SHOP!

For only $16 (less than 50 cents per page), the Jurneazee Trip Activity Packet includes:
 – 5 coloring pages
 – 5 crossword puzzles
 – 5 bingo cards
 – 8 scrambled word puzzle sets (7 words in each category)
 – 10 word-finds
 – Answer sheets

Plus, persons have the option to buy the complete packet or individual sections.

When can you get it?

Now, just in time for the holidays.

Are RV road trips the next big thing? Here’s what you need to know

Motorhome parked by the sea showing a palm tree at sunrise

Are the past months of confinement starting to get to you? Yup, me too. Tons of other people seem to feel the same way, and that’s why RV road trips are a growing vacation trend, one which is expected to hold steady at least until until we get a vaccine)

But can cross-country road trips be done safely?

The plain truth is, 𝙞𝙣 𝙖 𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙘 𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙨 𝙜𝙪𝙖𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙚𝙙! But if you follow CDC/WHO guidelines, make wise choices, and act responsibly, you may be able to get away for a bit.

So, we all know cars are an option. But have you ever thought about going the bigger, “all-inclusive” route and renting an RV? I have. I’ve been doing a lot of research about them, so I thought I’d share some of the things I learned with you.

Picture of an RV Van at sunset

Let’s start with the basics

What is an RV?

An RV is a recreational vehicle. They have always been popular with people looking for freedom and a simpler life, but recently there has been a spike in demand for them from travelers looking to have more control over their health and safety during the pandemic.

Are there different types of RVs?

Yes, RVs come in different sizes!

Class A Motorhomes are big bus-sized vehicles, suitable for large families or groups. A Class B Motorhome is smaller and usually shaped like a van. They are great for couples and people travelling solo. Class C Motorhomes offer mid-size family comfort and convenience, often similar in size to a U-Haul truck.

There are also tow behind trailers, pop up trailers and truck campers.

Information on different types of RVs

What type should I rent?

The type of vehicle you rent will depend on how many people are going on the trip, how much you want to spend, how much advance planning you want to do, and the type of adventure you want to have.

For example, bigger vehicles give you more space and better amenities, but they cost more in terms of gas and campground/RV park fees. On the flip side, camper vans are easier to drive and park, but you won’t be able to pack as many clothes into them or have as much room to cook elaborate family meals.  

Now, let’s talk about more specifics.

Tips for planning

Map out your route (i.e. pay attention to things like height restrictions for bridges and tunnels, stops for gas, and terrain that may be tricky to navigate).

Research parking ahead of time. This is super important and can make or break your trip. I’ll list apps that can help with this later in this post.

Book your campsite way in advance. As I previously mentioned, the demand for camping has exploded due to COVID-19, so availability is limited.

Allow for differences in travel times because everything takes longer than when driving in a car.

4 Tips for Planning an RV Road trip

RV Parking 101

Parking can add up, so planning for it depends on your budget and how long you intend to be on the road.  If your vehicle has solar panels and its own generator, you can go off the grid and avoid pricey campgrounds or RV Parks.

But if you’re hoping to save money, you can try to secure an overnight spot in a state park, rest area, truck stop, casino or Walmart. Always check on rules and local ordinances first though as they vary by state, city and business.

Handy apps and websites

HipCamp: They allow you to tap into their database of nearly 400,000 camp-friendly sites that range from national parks to blueberry farms.

iOverlander: This is a crowd-sourced app that shows you locations you can park for free, as well as get tips on mechanics, clean water sources, where to get propane, and more.

US Public Lands: Available from the US Government, this app lists their public lands. One user said, “It’s a great way to research an area and find some hidden gems that aren’t in the directories.”

a List of apps and Websites for camping

Websites

Campendium.com: This site gives you reviews and information on nearly 27,000 campsites in the United States, Canada, and Baja Mexico.

Freecampsites.net:  They are a simple, map-based search engine that helps you find free and/or cost-effective campgrounds.

HarvestHosts.com: Harvest Host is a paid membership network that allows you to stay at breweries, vineyards, and even some farms for free.

Companies that rent RVs

There are many RV rental companies to choose from, but the following five kept coming up in my research:

Outdoorsy
CruiseAmerica
RV Share
Escape Capervans
Jucy RV Rentals

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of any company. These tips are meant to be starting points only. Please conduct your own research on anything you’ve read in these slides before making final decisions on your RV Road Trip.

a List of companies that rent Rvs

Now, before you hit get behind the wheel, be sure to check out some of my other resources here for road trip game ideas and useful road trip checklists.

Do you have any great trips for RV road trips you’d like to share?

12 Road trip games that will make your car ride easier

Black woman leaning against trunk of SUV packed or a long road trip

There’s no denying that spending multiple hours in a cross-country car ride can be challenging – no matter how much you love your fellow passengers. That’s why it’s always good to have interactive road trip games planned to overcome restlessness and boredom during the journey.

Already tripping over that upcoming road trip? Don’t worry. I got u. I’ve already hooked you up with 4 road trip checklists to ensure you don’t forget anything. Now, I’m sharing 12 road trip games that will make your car ride easier.

Games for Small Kids

I Spy

One passenger spots an object that will remain within everyone’s line of vision for a while and gives clues to help the kids guess what it is.

The Alphabet Game

Let your kids look around them (inside and outside the car) for objects that begin with letters of the alphabet, going in order from A to Z

What Color Is It?

Name a list of things that have the same color and challenge your kids to kids guess what the common color is. For example, you can say “strawberries, tomatoes and cherries” if you want then to come up with RED.

Sing-A-Long

Take turns choosing a song. Everyone in the car then sings along as loudly and animatedly as possible.

Games For Older Kids

 Story Time

One person comes up with the opening line of a story then family members take turns to add one line until it comes to a natural end.

The License Plate Game

Have your tweens work together to spot all the out-of-town license plates they can find and make a note of the different states represented.

Hum That Tune

Start this game by asking one person to hum the chorus or opening line of a popular song. The first person to guess the tune correctly gets to go next. 

The Movie Game

In this game you connect actors/actresses by the movies they have starred in. So, begin with naming an actor in one move and then family members must name other actors from the same movie without any repeats.

Games for Adults

The Hot Seat

This is your chance to find out things you wanted to know all along.  For this game, each passenger has to answer five questions they normally wouldn’t.

Never Have I Ever

One family member lists something they have never done, while saying: “Never have I ever… “

The other players each get a point if they have done it. The player with the most points wins.

Two Truths and a Lie

One player makes three statements and others try to decipher which two are true and which one is false.

The Rhyming Game

Have the first player choose a word and then the other passengers must take turns coming up with a word that rhymes with it.

What other road trip games have worked for you and your friends or family? Please hare them below.

Plus, I’ve got something new coming! Stay tuned.

And if you found this post useful, don’t forget to save and share. Sharing is caring, okay?

4 Road trip checklists for 2020 and beyond

Woman in convertible going on a road trip

It was estimated that 37 million Americans took a road trip over the 4th of July weekend this year, and the global number for summer travel was predicted to hit an all time high. Were you counted in those stats?

If not, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are desperate to get away from the quarantine confines of your home or neighborhood for the fall. Plus, I am willing to bet you are planning to get to your next destination via RV or car. Airlines haven’t stopped flying, but with so much still up in the air, road trips seem to give a greater sense of control over your personal space, which reduces the perceived risks to our health and safety. Wouldn’t you agree?

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDOTT6yhAjc/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Before I go any further though, let me just say that non-essential travel during a global health crisis is a sensitive subject and very much a personal choice. So, the decision to hit the road – whether in North America, Europe Africa or the Middle East, or another region of the globe – will be totally up to you. But if you do plan on revenge travel or that safecation, this post is designed to help you put together a thorough road trip checklist. One that’s especially right for you!

First. let’s break down everything you’ll need for your vehicle.

Next, with all that time on the road, let’s note all the gadgets that may come in handy.

Now, it’s safe to assume you’re going to need help with navigation, finding gas stations, parking, making last-minute bookings and other tricky stuff, right?

And last but not least, no road trip is really complete without a happy family. Yes, there may be tumultuous toddler meltdowns, testy temper tantrums among siblings, or missed exits because Dad didn’t check directions. But at the end of the day, those are the things that make vacations fun and memorable.

Plus, coming soon, my very own compilation of travel-themed activities for the entire family! It will be great for road trips as well as for dealing with boredom and wanderlust while stuck at home.

Road trip activities coming soon

What else would you add to YOUR ultimate road trip checklist? Please share it in the comments section below.

Let’s talk post ‘Rona travel: What destinations are on your wish list?

Black woman on beach looking out to sea and dreaming

The effects of the pandemic have begun to recede in some countries and borders are slowly starting to open up again, so the thought of post COVID-19 travel is no longer as far removed as it was three or four months ago.

Regrettably, cases are still rising where I am, which means I don’t plan on getting on a plane today, next week, or even next month. But by no means has that daunting reality stopped me from dreaming about travel – like all the time.

So if you’re like me, maybe you’ve been paying close attention to how destinations are handling the crisis, and you’ve either been put off or impressed with their responses.

The responsible, measured and meaningful approach taken by these three destinations completely won me over, so they now sit atop my post COVID-19 travel wish list.

Visit Auckland

I’ve added Auckland to my bucket list because their in-crisis travel video gives me goosebumps whenever I watch it.

I mean… Every. Single. Time.

Narrated by an 11 year-old girl, it is a love letter to Mother Nature that reminds us how important it is to give the environment a break once in a while. Because, like us, nature needs time to heal.

The poignant visuals and moving voice over ends with…”Dream. Plan. And when the time is right, we’ll welcome you. But for now, listen. Papatūānuku (our earth mother) is breathing.”

Visit Portugal

Portugal’s advertising message was similar, but their campaign was built around the idea that It’s time to stop.

Using footage shot before the lockdown and audio recorded at home on a cell phone, the narrator tells us, “It’s time to stare humanity in the eyes. To take a break for the world. Time to make a pause, so we can play again.

“To reset. To re-center. Switch off, to move on.”

Now who can argue with that?

Visit Jamaica

Let me be honest. I didn’t really need to hear Jamaica’s promise that Brighter days will return to decide to visit the land of my birth as soon as I feel confident enough to travel again. But hey, the beautiful imagery and the soothing island lilt brought on an even greater sense of urgency to run home and submerge myself in a heavy dose of feel-good nostalgia. And I’m guessing it may have the same pull on you too.

I know I am biased, but how can anyone remain unmoved when they hear the narrator say, “Jamaica serves the world with one heart and as one people. Even though we are many beating hearts, in times like these our hearts beat as one.”

Certainly not me. LOL.

Well, that’s my list.

If you had all the money and time in the world to make your post COVID-19 travel wish list come true, where would YOU go?

Learn to speak like a Jamaican in three easy steps

Are you dreaming of jetting off to the Caribbean when this extended period of social distancing is over? Why not jump on the armchair travel trend and learn to speak like a Jamaican while you plan for the day you’ll be free to move around again? It’s no secret one of the best ways to immerse yourself in another culture is teach yourself how to communicate with residents in their local lingo.

Below are fun, short instructional videos to help you learn to speak like a Jamaican in three easy steps.

Greetings

In this 1st episode you’ll learn how to greet someone with our Caribbean lilt to your tongue.

Phrases used:

Whah a gwaan?
What’s going on?

How yuh duh?
How are you doing?

Yuh awrite?
Are you okay? As in, you good?

Asking for directions

Now here are two basic ways to ask for directions:

Phrases used:

Weh di [insert name] deh?
Where is the __?

Weh mi can fine __?
Where can I find [insert name of place]

Terms of address

For Lesson 3, we explore common words that are used when speaking to someone you consider a friend or colleague.

Phrases used:

Bredren
Sistren
Paadie
Dups/Doops

Have you ever been to the land of Red Strip beer, and some of the most well-known reggae music and sports icons? Not yet? As soon as it’s safe to travel again, you should go check it out.

Additional links to help you learn to speak like a Jamaican:

The traveler’s Instagram guide to understanding Jamaican slang

11 colorful expressions only a Jamaican would understand