Hey, Mocha Divas!
Baby, it’s cold outside! We have had 2 rounds of snow and ice in the Memphis area and the city has been all but shut down since last Friday. It’s so cold that I can’t help but think warm thoughts and future travel destinations. Speaking of travel, raise your hand if you like to travel. I see you! Raise your hand if you desire to travel, but just haven’t created the space to do so. I see you too! As you know, Mocha Divas is all about making the most of the moment that we are in instead of waiting for the proverbial perfect moment to do whatever it is that we want to do. On that note, we are going to move from thought to action today.
5 Travel Essentials for Every Mocha Diva
Every Mocha Diva needs 5 things in order to have an amazing travel experience. Of course this isn’t based on any scientific research, but rather life experience. I won’t steer you wrong…promise.
Yes…a passport. If you don’t have a passport, you need one. You may not have a trip planned yet. You may not have plans for an international trip anytime soon; however, trust me on this one. As the saying goes, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. It takes time to get through the passport application process, at least 4-6 weeks, so you absolutely have to plan ahead. If it’s your first time applying for a passport, you have to appear in person at an acceptance facility. Again, it’s a process and most facilities require you to make an appointment. In addition, you will need to provide proof of citizenship. You will also need a photo. There are pretty strict requirements regarding the photo, so again, you must plan ahead. Lastly, there are fees involved. Once you get your passport, it’s valid for 10 years, so it’s definitely worth it. Click here to get the specifics regarding applying for your passport. Thank me later. 🙂
- Travel Budget
Our budget typically dictates where (or how far) we can go. Now, in the age of Groupon and similar sites, as well as Airbnb and HomeAway, travel is not as expensive as it once was; however, you still need a budget. As you think about traveling, know that you don’t have to go far in order to have a great time. My preference is a quick getaway a few times a year along with at least one extended vacation. Does this sound expensive? It doesn’t have to be. Be resourceful. If you travel for work, build in a couple of extra days to enjoy a new city. The most that you will have to pay is the cost of the additional nights of the hotel stay. My husband and I take advantage of my business travel in this manner. We went to New York last summer and while I attended my conference, he explored the city (he even got a cameo appearance on the Today Show). We extended the stay a couple of days to enjoy the city together and we were only out of the cost of the additional hotel stay. His flight was paid for with frequent flyer miles. Whether you are currently a frequent traveler, or you’re just starting to explore, be sure to sign up for all of the rewards programs available – airlines, hotels, and rental cars. Those points add up. I just returned from a trip to visit a girlfriend for her 40th birthday celebration and I used frequent flyer miles to cover my flight. Winning!
I also recommend a travel agent to assist in planning your vacation. I have utilized the same travel agent for the last 12 years or so and she is AMAZING! She researches options as well as shares her experiences to help me make informed decisions. I don’t have a lot of extra time to do all of the legwork, so I leave it to the expert. Using a travel agent also allows me to pay for my international trips over time. Yes, you can pay over time when you plan ahead.
I know I mention air travel frequently throughout this post, but I also enjoy travel via train. It’s not expensive and you get to relax and enjoy some beautiful scenery along the way. Cruises are probably my favorite mode of travel. Again, they aren’t very expensive and you can stop at different ports for various experiences in one vacation. Road trips are my least favorite, but that’s because I’m a nervous passenger and it just seems to take so long to get to your destination. I have, however, had a couple of really fun road trips recently – one to New Orleans for a girlfriends getaway to Essence Fest and the other with my husband to our friends’ destination wedding in Destin, Florida.
- Travel Buddies
I have learned over time that you can’t travel with everybody. Just because they are a great friend doesn’t mean that they will make for a great travel buddy. Take my word for it. Of course I travel with my husband, who is very easygoing. I also have groups of girlfriends with whom I travel. We get each other. You typically figure out your best travel buddies through trial and error. I have certainly had way more positive experiences than negative experiences. I’ve traveled with as many as 22 people (New Orleans for my 40th birthday) and as few as two, and just about every combination in between. I have a girlfriend who just returned from her first solo vacation and she said it was amazing. I’ve traveled alone frequently for business, but never for pleasure. Bucket list item?
- Good Luggage
Good luggage doesn’t mean expensive luggage. Just know that your luggage gets pretty beat up after a trip or two, especially if you’re flying and you check your bag. I don’t spend a lot of money on luggage for that reason alone; however, I believe in buying quality pieces that will last over time. I travel pretty frequently and I would rather spend my money on experiences over things, so I don’t want to buy luggage every year or two. My preference is hardside luggage. I have found it to be more durable than the soft-side luggage. My last set of luggage, which was purchased at Stein Mart, lasted for more than 5 years. It was hardside, in my favorite pattern – polka dots (go figure). I always buy two pieces – the really large one (hey, don’t judge me…this post isn’t about efficient packing) and the medium one that meets carry-on requirements. I bought my current pieces at TJ Maxx a couple of years ago, and I expect to have them for a few more years. They take a licking from the baggage handlers and keep on ticking! In addition to the luggage, every Mocha Diva needs a tote, preferably one that can also be used as a handbag when you aren’t traveling. The Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag is my go-to. It holds EVERYTHING! When I’m not traveling, I use it to carry workout gear and it doubles as a shopping tote. I definitely get my money’s worth.
- Proper Attire
Once upon a time, everyone dressed up when traveling by plane. Today, you see all kinds of attire in the airport. I don’t like it. I want to look good when I travel. Now, looking good for me doesn’t necessarily mean business attire and a fully made up face. Since you never know if you’ll be stuck in an airport due to a delayed flight or whatnot, I believe in cute and comfy for travel. The same goes for road trips. Hey, you never know who you might run into at In-N-Out during your food stop. Can’t go wrong with a pair of jeans, or my new favorite – joggers that can be dressed up or down. A comfortable tunic or sweater and a wrap or large scarf – because it gets cold on the plane and in the car. I throw on some tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, a little blush and my favorite lipstick – ready! That’s really my routine…see pic below for the evidence. And if you’re flying, minimal jewelry and shoes that you can easily slip off and on are highly recommended. Now TSA Pre√ is a game changer, so check into it if you fly often.
Travel doesn’t have to be some “pie in the sky” or “one day soon” dream. Don’t despise small beginnings. The key is to start. Perhaps it’s a weekend getaway via car for now and a 7 day cruise later this summer. Before you know it, you’ll be a globetrotting Mocha Diva! Stop dreaming and start doing. Comment below with your next travel destination. Tell us where you’re going and who you’re going with. While you’re at it, don’t keep this blog to yourself. Click the share buttons below and share with friends, family, and anyone else who might enjoy the content. Your support is appreciated! Here’s to living our best life NOW!
Live. Laugh. Love.