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.

Why this sand-free towel has me all shook up

Jumping for joy with Tesalate sand free towel

Two months ago, I’d never heard of sand-free towels, let alone know such a product did, in fact, exist. But after getting one and trying it out, I’m all shook up. (Read that in Elvis’ singing voice. Mm mm mm, mm, yay, yay, yay.)

Because, yeah. While I love frolicking with waves that hit my feet and using the sand for my seat, I don’t like leaving the beach covered with a million grainy particles clinging to my ‘eRRything‘.  Nor I am a fan of involuntarily carting sand into my car and apartment, which leaves a mess that’s a ton of work to clean up. After a fun beach day, who has time for that?


Exactly! That’s why I find the trendy, sand-free towels from Tesalate so disruptive and revolutionary. They’re made from a groundbreaking fabric called AbsorbLite™ that, unlike regular beach towels, doesn’t have looped microfibers that trap sand. After sitting on the towel or drying off with it, all it takes is a few good shakes to get it joyously grain free.  

But don’t go anywhere yet. I’m spilling all the tea. Here are some other reasons why I’m a goner for these crazy-sexy-cool, sand-free towels:

They’re not just functional, they’re pretty, too

If you’ve been scrolling through your Instagram feed lately (as most of us do), you’ll have noticed it’s been declared a hot girl summer. And as any hot girl knows (present company included or excluded…HA HA), a slaying combination of the right beach tote, cover up, hat, shades, swimsuit and towel can have you serving up some fierce LEWKS.

Beach scenes with MyTravelStamps

With close to forty bold, colorful prints to choose from, Tesalate has got you covered all day, any day – literally and figurately.

They are lightweight and compact

If space in your beach bag or suitcase is a premium, these towels are perfect because they’re thinner and lighter than conventional terry cloth towels.  Plus, they feel cooler on your skin in warm climates, and they fold down and fit into a neat, sleek-looking pouch that makes it easy to carry around.

They are super absorbent and dry quickly

Tesalate’s avant-garde textile technology also prevents its towels from collapsing into a wet, soggy mess at the end of your beach day because it absorbs water quickly. It can comfortably soak up to 33 ounces or 1 liter of good ole H20. So, splash around like crazy and then grab the towel and shoot your best shot.  You’ll find you can blot your body dry gently, instead of being forced to do a vigorous wipe down.

Another cool feature is the small loop I noticed sewn into the corner of my towel. It comes in handy if you ever want to hang it up on a tree or shrub to dry in the breeze.

They tend not to get the dreaded mildew smell

Maybe it’s due to the thinness of the fabric, but Tesalate towels don’t seem to get that musty, mildew smell as quickly as you would get with thicker brands.  If you’re on the road for a long period of time or can’t get to do laundry right away, that’s a highly valued thing.

They’re versatile

Finally, can I just tell you all that this towel (or snazzy cover up) goodness isn’t confined to the beach? You can use it for yoga, at the pool, to set the scene for a garden picnic, and even as a makeshift blanket on the plane or in your hotel room. The standard size is 60cm x 80cm / 63 x 31 inches, but they also have a larger Towel for Two option (160cm x 160cm / 63 x 63 inches) which makes it easy to get cozy.

Hello, what are you waiting on? Head on over to their site now and check those towels out, grab a drink from a cool beach bar, and then be sure to meet me at the shore.

Sand free beach towel review


Note: This post was written as part of a brand collaboration with Tesalate, but all views are my own.

My absolute favorite travel gear

From time to time, people ask me what travel products I use on my trips, so for easy reference, I compiled a shortlist of my go-to items and decided to share them here.


I know there are fancier designs and much trendier luggage brands available, but I’ve had my Nautica Open Seas set for at least 8 years, and I love it because none of the 5 pieces has failed me yet! The carry-on, which gets the most use, is light and compact, and holds a ton of stuff (if you use good packing hacks). Another plus is the groovy navy & yellow color combo on the exterior that makes your bag super easy to spot if you ever have to wait at the carousel.

The duffle bag is also a cool bonus, because you can break it down and place it inside your carry-on to use as an extra piece for souvenirs on the return trip. At home, I’ve also used it as a gym bag on a few occasions.


If you follow me on Instagram, it’s pretty obvious I get more than a little snap happy on vacation. But since I’m just an eager amateur and not a professional, I’ve still got A LOT to learn about photo-taking techniques. Knowing when to switch aperture speeds, change lenses, adjust depth of field to sharpen focus or chase the right lighting to avoid overexposure sounds overwhelming to me. So, listen up. If you catch me in dem tourist streets, don’t expect to see me with a DSLR or mirrorless camera strapped over my shoulder – just yet.  

I guess I should be embarrassed to admit this out loud, but here it comes. I’m still using a compact point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SX530 HS to frame my shots and learn my best angles!  Yes, you can go ahead and GASP. My three-year-old baby has a 50x zoom lens that shoots images at a 16-megapixel resolution and video at 1080p. It also has integrated Wi-Fi with NFC (Near Field Communication), which allows me to transfer photos to my cell phone with an app.


I did a solo trip to Peru for my birthday in 2018, and after years of dreaming about walking through the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, I didn’t want to take the chance of not capturing great shots to preserve the visual memories of my time there. So, what did your girl do? She went out and bought a Sunpak TravelLite Pro Reverse Folding 63′ Tripod (with red accents because she’s extra) and taught herself how to use it!

The irony of the situation though, is that tripods are not allowed at the site. I think they’re considered a possible hazard because of the uneven terrain and huge crowds. But it’s all about tenacity and creativity, right? I converted my tour guide into an able art director and wardrobe assistant for my personal Mapi photo shoot. That’s the name locals call their Wonder of the World.


Other than being extremely useful for communicating with folks back home, figuring out directions in unfamiliar territory, and having access to the internet at your finger tips, my smartphone is a must-have on my trips because it’s a handy camera too.

iPhone lovers, I’m an unapologetic Android devotee, and at the moment, a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is where it’s at in my book. First of all, the 128 GB in-built storage and up to 512 GB of expandable space through a MicroSD is just bananas. What’s more, the optical lens has a 2x zoom and it’s also well-documented that the pixel detail and low-light photography capabilities are far superior.

The signature S Pen isn’t shabby either! You can use it to control more than seven devices at one time within a 30-feet radius. Think YouTube, Snapchat, Spotify music and your camera app, among others. Check out this IG post to see what I mean.

Bonus item (a gimbal)

This Zhiyun Smooth-Q is brand new to me, and is going to be my new best friend on all my expeditions. It’s a hand-held stabilizer that allows you to use your phone to record non-shaky video. It comes with an inbuilt battery that runs for up to 12 hours and has a standard tripod mount at the bottom. Yaaass! I’m about to say a permanent BYE BYE to wobbly footage. Now, if you don’t have a gimbal already, maybe you can think about getting one, too!

In case you’re wondering, none of the items mentioned in this post is sponsored. I actually use these brands and have been doing so on my own dime for a while – years, in some cases. However, the Amazon product links are affiliated. That means if you click on the product, review it, and then decide to buy something, I have the potential to earn a small (as in tiny) commission from qualifying purchases.

Hotel Review: Allure Chocolat by Karisma Hotels & Resorts

My sister and I had no clue what to expect when we hurriedly booked Allure Chocolat by Karisma Hotels & Resorts only four days before we landed in Cartagena. The pictures looked great on Expedia and we’d cross-checked them against traveler’s photos and reviews on TripAdvisor. But as you and I know, that didn’t mean the reality would be what we envisioned. Allure Cocolat by Karisma Hotels & Resorts

However, once we got there, we thanked our lucky stars that things had aligned perfectly. This 34-room boutique city hotel is a gem. Conveniently located less than a 5-minute walk to the Walled City, we began to get a sense of what made this place special from the moment we stepped off the curb and into its modern-looking lobby. (Other than its 24-hour front desk assistance and blissfully quick 15-minute drive from Rafael Nuñez Airport, that is.)

Lobby of Allure Chocolat, Cartagena

The staff:

As soon as we exited our cab, we were met by Alfonso, a courteous and helpful bellman who helped us with our luggage. He welcomed us warmly, with a genuine smile that lit up his entire face. Front desk check-in at Allure Chocolat by Karisma Hotels & Resorts

Our first treat was the offer of cold towels to wipe our faces and a refreshing glass of fruit-infused water to cool us down. Fruit flavored water at Hotel Chocolat

Right on clockwork, Natalie, the pretty and petite front desk agent who had the looks and vivacious personality that could easily make her a telenovela star, checked us in.

Her fluency in English and lack of a heavily-accented lilt impressed me, even more so after I later learnt she’d never – to that point – left the country. When I asked her about it, she told me she had studied English for a few years in school but had fine-tuned her communication skills by listening to Billboard songs and watching Hollywood movies. I was floored.

At different points during our stay, we also met and interacted with Giovanni and Fabian at the front desk. Daily breakfasts were made merrier by our server Jorge’s infectious personality and efficient service; a pleasant start to our mornings. Truth be told, his perkiness alone could single-handedly put the coffee industry out of business! Deanna, a waitress who was also very nice but a bit more reserved, was a soothing balm at dinner.

The amenities:

The rooms are small but contemporary and chic, and they feature either city or waterfront views. What’s more, the pillow top beds are super comfy and each room is outfitted with well-placed amenities that cater to guests’ needs. Hotel room at Allure Chocoat

One particularly delightful part of the check-in process included selecting a scent for my room.  They call it an Aromatherapy & Pillow Menu.  Guests can choose from four fragrances: Homely Forest, Fresh Countryside, Sutil Romance and I believe one called Calmness Parache. (Side note: It’s kinda hard to read my hasty scrawl notes after a week, let alone a few months. Thank goodness I don’t do this for a living because this review is way past due.) Aromatherapy choices at Allure Chocolat

The aroma you pick is used in the room each night when the housekeeper provides turn-down service, complete with chocolates on your pillow. A great way to indulge the senses!  Add free local calls; complimentary and reliable Wi-Fi; a nicely stocked mini-bar that includes Jose Cuervo rum and Absolut Vodka; iPod docking stations; robes; slippers and a rain head shower in the bathroom to that, and you’ve got a winner in my book.

Bathroom at Allure Chocolat

Mini Bar choices at Allure Chocolat

Snack tray at Allure Chocolat

There is also a great rooftop infinity pool with spectacular views of the city and waterfront. I heard great things about the mojitos served at that bar.Rooftop infinity pool at Allure Chocolat, Cartagena


Red Knife, the onsite full-service restaurant, is a dream. Guided by a farm-fresh philosophy, it offers culinary delights that are sure to meet the stringent standards of even the most discerning palates.

Red Knife restaurant, Hotel ChocolatThe décor and ambiance have an upscale-steakhouse feel that is inviting, but if you’re not a steak lover, don’t panic, poultry and seafood options are also featured on the menu. Shrimp dish at Red Kinfe Restaurant, Cartagena

And wine aficionados will love their impressive selection of Chilean, Argentine, Mexican and Californian bottles. Specialty liquors and a neat menu of cocktails also are available.

sectino of Red Knife restaurant at Allure Chocolat, Cartagena

The breakfast buffet (included in the room rate) is available from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Each morning we had our choice of various breads, jams, cheeses, cold cuts, cereals, coffee – and for non caffeine people like me, tea or hot chocolate. Breakfats buffet at Allure Chocolat

Fresh juices, served in mini bottles were an added touch. Egg-lovers have no fear, you can have your morning favorites done to order.  Everything I had was delicious. I especially appreciated the fact that the chef honored my request for one egg for breakfast because I hate it when I get two or three in an omelet that inevitably goes to waste.  Dinner starts at 6 p.m.  Made to order breakfast at Red Knife, Allure Chocolat

I never ate at Zas, the other dining alternative next to the rooftop pool, but it was usually packed – especially at sunset.


Allure Chocolat’s location puts you within walking distance of numerous bars, restaurants, shops and cafes. It is also across the street from the convention center; a nice plus for business travelers.

The Museo de Arte Moderno is nearby and the highly cited San Felipe de Barajas Castle is a mere 20-minute walk away. Excursions and party buses will pick you up and drop you off from the Walled City, which in itself is a walkable treat. Don’t travel to Cartagena and deny yourself the pleasure of exploring those narrow, yet oh so culturally and historically expansive streets!


This property is good value for money. My sister and I paid COP1,753,053 (USD555+) for our initial three-night stay, and we returned for an additional night after our trip to Medellin. I would definitely go back – again and again,

Editor’s Note:

The only odd thing I encountered during my stay was the lack of regular-sized wash rags in the bathroom. To be clear, there was a pair on arrival but those two were not replaced after the first housekeeping visit, whereas face towels and bath towels were in adequate supply. When I asked the cleaning staff about it (in my rudimentary Spanish), I got the impression that the disconnect could have been due to a cultural difference. The wash rags that we use for bathing in the Caribbean and North America seem to be only used there as cold cloths for wiping the face.

Hotel Chocolat is part of Karisma Hotels & Resorts, an award-winning luxury hotel collection that owns and manages properties in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Hotel Review: Jewel Dunn’s River Resort & Spa

My aunt had a milestone birthday late last year and my sister, sister-friend and I flew to Jamaica to help her celebrate. The mission was to treat her to a 48-hour getaway on the north coast that involved getting up close and personal with the flora and fauna she loved, seeing historical sites, gazing spellbound at majestic waterfalls and enjoying the adult-only, all-inclusive perks at Jewel Dunn’s River Resort & Spa Ocho Rios. The hotel is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton.

Entrance area to the hotel
Entrance to the hotel

As soon as we entered the airy lobby we were greeted by a bellman with a welcome drink in-hand. That was all it took to affirm that we’d made the right decision in selecting this hotel. It was just what my aunt needed.

Dramatic staircase in the main lobby
Dramatic staircase in the main lobby

The accommodations

The property has 250 guest rooms with a variety of layouts that spread across three buildings. Each room boasts Colonial-style furniture. Picture regal four poster beds made from sturdy mahogany wood and nightstands and lamps  in the same period style.

Spacious oceanfront room outfitted with Colonial style furniture
Spacious oceanfront room outfitted with a four-poster bed and other Colonial style furniture

We stayed in the Diamond Concierge guestrooms that provided balconies with fantastic ocean views, fully-stocked mini-bars including replenishment without incurring extra charges, elegant whirlpool baths, his and her bathrobes and slippers and 24-hour room service.


Swim up pool bar
Swim up pool bar

There are beach cabanas; six restaurants; six bars; two swimming pools, one with a water feature and a place for dive-in movies. And if that alone is not enough, guests also have access to tennis courts; a fitness center; a 9-hole pitch and putt golf course; a hair and nail salon; and a full-service spa on-site. The all-inclusive rate covers all meals, food and beverage and non-motorized watersports such as kayaking and sunfish sailing.

Hot tub area in the spa
Hot tub area in the spa

The Radiant Spa – a quiet oasis from the hustle and bustle of the resort – features a range of massages and a variety of other treatments.


Dining options range from casual to formal. The Aquamarina Beach Grill, open from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., is flip-flop and swimsuit friendly. It serves light fare like burgers, jerked chicken, fries and made-to-order sandwiches right next to the beach.

Salt mackerel with boiled yam and bananas
My breakfast dish of salt mackerel with boiled yam and bananas

The Coral Café, which requires a resort casual dress-code, welcomes guests for buffet breakfast at 7 a.m. and lunch at noon. Its specialty is international cuisine. The more formal Platinum restaurant, which features the best of Caribbean cuisine, is the place to be for a-la-carte breakfast from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. or dinner between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

I heard great things about the Japanese restaurant, Jade Samurai, but I didn’t dine there. I didn’t indulge in any pizzas from Court Jester’s either.

The menu at Court Jesters
The menu at Court Jesters

Moonstone, the Italian hotspot, was closed on Friday night to allow guests to dine under the stars. The popular weekly program sets up dinner al aire libre on the pier where you can enjoy a pre-set three course menu while you watch the anchored boats bob idly in the ocean. I was told private beach dinner packages also were available.

Two major hang outs where drinks flowed freely were the Sunken Treasure Swim-up Bar, open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and the Emerald Tree Lounge, which stays open late.


Guests can do as much or as little as they want at the resort. Each morning, consult with your local paper – the Jewel Times – for an outline of the planned activities for the day. It is available in the lobby free of charge. Power walks, golf, tennis drills, beach and pool volleyball, aquasize and reggae dance classes, water balloon and bean toss options are some options. Sing-a-longs at the piano bar and high energy Cabaret showcases featuring prominent Jamaican entertainers, are others.

Popular and central Tree Bar area
Popular and central Tree Bar area

Nearby attractions include Dunn’s River Falls, the Dolphin Experience, Mystic Mountain, Turtle River Falls and Gardens, Seville Great House and Shaw Park Gardens.


I found the value fair considering everything that was included in the rate. You will be fine if you don’t go expecting top-shelf liquor and Michelin-star food.

Hotel Review: Abaco Beach Resort

Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Habour Marina is a sea-lover’s paradise.

Hotel reception area
Hotel reception area

72 of its guestrooms boast scenic ocean views and the good news is you don’t have to bend your head out of shape or hang preciously over your private balcony to enjoy the stunning visuals.

Every room has a clear ocean view
Every room has a clear ocean view

The resort also has four one-bedroom suites and five two-bedroom villas. (The villas are garden view.)

Room in the two-bedroom villa
Room in the two-bedroom villa

Plus, the icing on the already attractive ‘vacation cake’ is the section they call The Residences. It consists of nine two-and three-bedroom condominiums and… OMG bite me!

Abacao Beach Resort
Abacao Beach Resort

The rooms’ dark wood tones, refreshingly warm and vibrant wall paint, sumptuous fabrics and tasteful details capture the island-luxury feel perfectly. Living area in The Residences

Bedroom in The Residences
Bedroom in The Residences

But that is not all.

With 198 boat slips that accommodate vessels as large as 200-feet do not be surprised if you go for an early morning run or swim and run into a seaman walking his dog or sweeping his deck.

The marina is popular in the boating community because it provides a safe harbor; electricity, fueling, cleaning and detailing services; and 24-hour security. Additionally, customs and immigration clearance that can be obtained on-site.

198-slip marina
198-slip marina

Of course, no resort experience would be complete without good food and a variety of activities.

At Abaco Beach Resort there are two great meal options – Anglers Restaurant for plated service and the centrally located Pool Bar for more relaxed fare. Activities run the gamut from non-motorized watersports to diving and snorkeling, bone, sea or deep fishing; bird watching; biking; island hopping or shopping and more

Pool with swim up seats by the bar
Pool with swim up seats by the bar

From the moment I boarded my flight and the attendant greeted all seven passenegrs with his, “Hello, please sit in rows eight through twelve in order to balance the plane” line, I should have known this trip would have been different.

Once you enter The Abacos zone, mundane reality and rigid structure exit the building.

Disclosure Statement: I visited the resort as an invited guest on official business but this post was not a condition of my stay. In fact, up to the time of writing and publishing this, no one at the property even knows I have a blog. My Travel Stamps readers can rest assured that my thoughts and comments will remain 100 per cent true to what I feel and experience. Always!