Candacetravels

The Travel Diary

Tag: business travel

5 Ways to Make Memorable Experiences Abroad: Summer Edition

Greetings, fellow travelers!!! It’s been some time since we last connected, but I am excited to share a previously written piece, posted on Black Enterprise, on the best ways to,” Make Memorable Experiences Abroad.” It’s summer here in the US, and many are looking for new and exciting places to visit and want some creative ideas on how best to enjoy them. Please click here to learn more about how you can enhance your next overseas journey and create lasting memories. Happy travels and hope to see you in an airport soon!!!

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Candacetravels’ 2016 Year In Review

“When asked if my cup is half full or half empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.”

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Babe’s Cafe – Brecksville, Ohio

What a year! 2016 doesn’t owe me a thing. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly eventful. I gazed across the city of Dallas, TX from 470 ft up in the air, as well as dined on-the-go, spent Valentine’s Day strolling through South Beach in Miami, chased butterflies in Aruba, snorkeled and sampled cactus liqueur in Bonaire, lived like a local in St. Maarten while staying at Alegria, smashed dinner at my favorite spot on the French side, Cynthia’s, in St. Martin, changed planes a few times in Curaçao (visited there a few years ago,) stood in a ridiculously long security line in Newark, skipped along the cherry blossom filled Tidal Basin in Washington D.C., relaxed like a queen at The Ritz Carlton in Arlington, ate at a cute lil cafe in Eufaula w/my sis, let the ocean breeze blow over me in Panama City, where I saw the most beautiful sunset, chowed down on some delicious food in Atlanta w/a friend, while in between cities, attended the CAVS championship parade in Cleveland, among various other activities, made some new connects in Orlando, caught like a million flights back and forth between FL and OH alllll year long, learned about horticulture in Clermont during my down time, kicked back in Tampa and Clearwater when I wasn’t working, ate the best pumpkin risotto and mushroom sliders in Oslo, where I would happily spend my summers, staying at Scandic Vulkan, danced at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where I celebrated my B-day with friends, prayed inside the gorgeous 100+ year old Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, after eating some yummy paella, spent a few hrs in beautiful Lisbon (which wasn’t long enough,) chilled out in the hot tub in Boston after my flight back to the US, and slept like a baby in Detroit! In the process, I smiled alot, caught a ton of flights ✈️(approximately 30,) rode on quite a few trains 🚉 (too many to remember) and in quite a few cars 🚘, (definitely lost count) as well as hit the water on a handful of boats 🛥 (that sounds about right) this past year too -and thanked God all the way thru! 🙏🏾In the midst of all of this, I met great people, sometimes traveled alone, while at times with others, and always with my favorite items – and wrote about many of my 2016 adventures on/in Candacetravels.com, in Upscale Living Magazine, on A Luxury Travel Blog, in Global Living Magazine and on Black Enterprise.com – I’ve included several links above for you!! Just click to read the full articles or posts. A HUGE THANKS goes out to all of you for your support, and a big thank you to 2016 for a superb Global Expedition that included 7 countries (well technically 8 because St. Maarten and St. Martin are considered two separate countries,) and a host of cities. But… now it’s time to make room for 2017!🏾 Let’s prepare to create some new epic adventures together. Happy New Year everyone!!

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Candacetravels

This post includes both sponsored, as well as non-sponsored material. However, the events noted above do recount my actual experiences regardless of post. My goal is to provide you with useful information to make your travel experience as rich as possible.

Smile Brilliantly…While On the Go!

Welcome fellow travel aficionados! Today we’re going to discuss how to maintain a million dollar smile, while on the go. If you’re a tea or coffee drinker, or even a smoker, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this information. Even if the aforementioned don’t apply to you, I’m sure you’ve hoped for a brighter smile at some point in life. If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a hotel (room) bathroom, fumbling with those over-the-counter whitening strips or gels- just a few days prior to an important meeting, then this post is most definitely for you. Since a great smile is equivalent to the perfect accessory, I have the perfect solution for you. Here’s how you can get your pearly whites to stand out in your meetings, as well as on your Instagram photos!

Today we’ll take an in depth look at Smile Brilliant, a professional grade teeth whitening kit that will amaze you by how fast it works. I recently became acquainted with this incredible product, which provided me with high quality results in record time, a short while ago. This one is most certainly a suitcase keeper!

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How It Works

My Smile Brilliant kit arrived in a square box, complete with everything I needed for a brighter smile. I must confess that I didn’t have layers of stains beforehand, but I am an avid tea, and very rare (on occasion) coffee drinker, so I wanted to lift my smile a shade or two for personal and professional purposes. I meet with a number of clients in different places, and I’m sometimes asked to be in pictures, so I like to look my best.

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The Kit– Inside I found instructions, molding putty, two trays; one for my upper teeth and a second for my bottom teeth, and 3 ml gel whitening syringes. Included was even an extra set of the modeling putty in case I had a misstep with the other, during the application. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it, because I had my Iphone handy, to time the molding process – to ensure accurate results.

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I followed the card inside, which instructed me to mix the white and blue putty together until I could no longer see any white. Once it was ready, I spread the mixture in the upper tray and bit down to create the mold. I repeated the process for the lower tray and let them both sit for the recommended length of time. When ready, I dropped both of the trays with molds inside the envelope provided and mailed them back to Smile Brilliant, for the creation of my custom teeth whitening trays. In just a few days, my custom trays arrived, and they fit perfectly! I was eager to test them out. A short time after, I took a syringe from the Smile Brilliant kit and lined each tray with the whitening gel. I placed each inside my mouth and made sure the gel covered my teeth completely. I kept them in for approximately 20 mins the first time, and couldn’t believe the results I witnessed. Each syringe has enough gel inside for about 4-5 whitening sessions.

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Teeth Whitening Results

I could see a difference after just one use. Since then, I repeated the whitening process 6 more times to achieve my brightest, whitest smile yet. I found the entire Smile Brilliant process quite easy from beginning to end. The whitening kit provided such great results- that I would compare it to what you’d expect to find at a dental office, just minus the hefty price tag. Aside from being easy to use, the trays and gel-filled syringes are also easy to transport in any luggage. The tray container is the size of the case that houses my retainers from 15 years ago, post my braces days. It also fits effortlessly into any carry-on, tote bag or purse, making it simple to carry, if you need to lift your smile a few shades while on the run.

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Fits easily into a makeup bag!

For those with sensitive teeth, there is also a desensitizing gel that’s available for use to serve as a barrier.

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Smile Brilliant offers a high quality teeth whitening product that is sure to not only boost your confidence while talking to others at home or on the road, but it will also aid in the success of your magnificent social media selfies- one photo at a time.

GIVEAWAY!!!! One winner will receive $139.95 credit, which is 1 tray creation kit, plus 6 gel syringes of your choice (3 whitening and 3 desensitizing or 6 whitening.) Click here to enter your name and email address for a chance to win!

*Stay tuned for pics of me and my new pearly whites!! Part II coming this week~

 

 

18 Hotel Keys

I was recently packing when I discovered a number of hotel keys floating about in various pieces of luggage. I typically rotate between my duffle bag, roller bag or backpack/weekender, depending upon the length of each trip. To my surprise, I counted 18 stays, reflecting 18 keys for this year alone. In case you’re wondering, I do usually turn in at least one key, considering the hotel or resort generally provides you with two. In some rare cases, I have even received three keys, when there were room, door issues. In any case, upon making this discovery, I thought to myself – “This is a lot of hotel keys for 2016, Candace.” While most are from the Hilton family (I’m a HH member ) i.e. DoubleTree, Hilton Garden Inn or Hampton (work related,) there are some others that hold extra special memories this year. I must confess that I don’t always post on social media where I am each day, and that is partially because, sometimes…. I’d rather not be found. Forgive me. I mix and mingle when needed, but the introvert in me has to have time to work in peace alone, and other times, I simply need to refuel- and that is best accomplished solo for me.

While strolling back down memory lane, I was instantly drawn to three keys in particular out of the bunch. They naturally stood out because they looked so different from the scores of replicas from the brands noted above. Immediately, I cracked a smile. I closed my eyes and thought back to when I used each of them this year, and the fun times that I had during my stays. From boating on the Caribbean Sea in Bonaire, to snapping photos of the low-flying aircraft on Maho Beach in St. Maarten, I had a blast! Then there was the day I ventured across to the French side- of St. Martin, to nosh out at Cynthia’s with a buddy, and the day I set out to view the thousands of gorgeous cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington D. C.  While all 18 experiences were not nearly as refreshing as these, I must say that each of them still left a lasting impression upon me. I’ve met so many cool people, engaged in countless deep conversations with individuals from all across the globe, joked with hotel staff….and complained in some cases, dined alongside some really interesting individuals, and overall just had a really good time. Life is meant to be lived, so I try my best to do just that. Although, it’s actually a pretty grueling job, despite what most people may think. Everyone sees the glitz and the glam online, but forgets about the backside of it. The flip side… is the challenging part. There are issues with business clients, unclean hotel rooms, hotel keys that don’t work after you’ve lugged tons of bags up to your door and have to go back to the front desk, those days where less than obedient children splash water on everyone outside of the pool while their parents sunbathe quietly, the nights of broken bathroom shower heads, lack of towels in the room, broken microwaves when it’s late and you want to warm up that delicious soup at 10:30pm, hard beds, hallway construction noise, loud neighbors and the telephones that don’t get a dial tone in the rooms, too. Yep, it’s not always an Instagram dream, but it’s part of the journey! Considering I’m a bit of a road warrior, a.k.a consultant, content writer, business coach and of course…travel and inspirational blogger, I’ve come up with a few things to consider before you book your next hotel/resort stay.

Hotel/Resort Tips from My Personal Experience

Remember: Not all hotel rooms are created equal. Thus, it’s important to look for certain amenities: Here is my go-to list, regardless of business or pleasure.

Driving vs. walking– If I have a rental car, which I often do, then proximity to the airport is not a major factor. However, in those instances when I don’t get a car, then accommodations near the airport and client are a real plus, since most have free shuttle service to and fro the airport, as well as within a 3 mile radius. I also consider if the property offers (free or not) breakfast, has on site restaurants, or if there are a plethora of food choices in both walking and driving distance. If I’ve had a long day, the last thing I want to do on my way back in, is to have to drive far to pick up dinner. Onsite restaurants are a winner, especially if the food is yummy. Free parking is also a plus when choosing.

Must- Haves–  I look for hotels with a business center in case I have to fax or scan items and a pleasant lounge area. If they don’t have a business center, then I need to confirm that they will fax or scan items if I need them to. I enjoy working in different atmospheres so when I’m not in the room, at a coffee shop, or in an office, I like to work from the lobby or lounge area. Change of scenery for me- is good. I also appreciate onsite laundry rooms and/or service and if it is a resort, then access to tours, beaches and other outdoor activities. Additionally, I look for onsite spa services, indoor or outdoor whirlpools, swimming pools, ocean room views (if it’s a water location) or city or garden scape views.

Also, be sure to select a property in the area of your activities. Map out to-do’s; restaurants, museums, train stations (if needed,) beaches, etc. If you have a strict diet (look for eateries that can accommodate,) walking restrictions and enjoy things like-morning jogs or strolls, your hotel location is important.

Travel Memberships & Apps

My preference for vacation is luxe! For business I’m generally in a moderately priced location. Thus, it really just depends on the trip, the client, whether it’s a vacation or business and the time of travel. I am a rewards member with Hilton and Wyndham (though not a huge fan of their brand, but I have stayed in a couple newly remodeled Wingates and Wyndhams that I liked.) Some of my favorite go-to apps for hotels include: Hotels.com, AgodaHotel Tonight, Travelpirates – primarily for flights and Hipmunk. The benefit of being a member or having an account with these companies is that you earn valuable points. Many travel-related credit cards (i.e. airline or hotel brands) work the same way. Each stay and even some purchases (credit cards,) allow you to amass points that can be applied toward “free” stays. Sign-up to take advantage of these benefits today! 

Well, 18 hotel keys later, and all I can say is that it’s been a wild ride already this year. Prayerfully, several more incredible travel experiences are on the way. In the meantime, happy and safe travels to you, and stay tuned to learn about more adventures, tips, products and services.

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3 Travel Must Haves – My 2016 Global Expedition

Greetings travelers! This 2016, Candacetravels kicked off a Global Expedition. The tour commenced in Dallas, TX, in January and was followed up by a 3 country visit in February to the Caribbean. With several more destinations on the horizon, I wanted to share my 3 must-haves for each trip. So…without further delay, here are my 3 travel staples for a smooth and successful journey!

  1. My camera- I am the proud owner of a Canon Rebel T3. I love it. It’s easy to use and the Rebel EOS series is a great starting point for amateur and new photographers. It takes high quality photos and feels good in my hands. It’s not overly bulky or painful to transport either. Recently, I invested in a multi-purpose (18mm-200mm) Tamaron Promaster lens, at the advice of a friend who is a photography guru (helping a newbie feel her way through,) and I haven’t regretted making the purchase since. The great thing about having a multi-purpose lens, is that it eliminates the hassle of having to carry multiple lenses. I can shoot objects up close, as well as at a distance. It was a fantastic find on Ebay- brand new, out the box and missing one end cap for a mere fraction of the retail price. My Canon is my baby and me love him (yes, my camera is a he) long time!
  2. My Laptop of choice- I’m always excited when I get to travel with a fresh out the box convertible. For my Caribbean leg of the expedition, I had the pleasure of using a Lenovo Yogo 900. This 2-in-1 is everything!!! I am a super-fan of the Yoga line, as it just works incredibly well for the person-on-the-go. The flexibility and ease of conversion is always a HUGE plus for me. The watch-band hinges allow me to flip between standard laptop mode to tablet or tent in just seconds- and it’s prefect that it’s touchscreen. It’s functional, the colors are rich and vibrant and it’s a great size- at 2.8 lbs, with a 13.3 inch display. I used the multi-touch during a couple meetings and it worked magnificently. It’s also slim and takes up minimal space in my often ridiculously full tote bag. This trip, I transported it in my sleeve. Depending upon the length of stay and amount of items I need to accompany me, I alternate between my sleeve in tote bag, to my Genius Pack Entrepreneur bag, which is more than a basic laptop bag. This particular journey called for quite a few extras, so I needed the tote space. The Yoga fit right in like a glove.
  3. My Iphone-  It’s difficult to believe that once upon a time I was a droidy.  I used to always say I can’t understand what the fascination is with everyone and Apple. Then one day, that old android of mine gave way, and I became the proud owner of an Iphone 5. I found it quite functional and easy to use and became so accustomed to it, that even after my first one was stolen in Rome, Italy, I found myself ordering a new one upon return to the states. Surprise- Candacetravels had officially become a member of team Apple. Go figure. Truthfully, I think I was hesitant to try because of my experience with their laptops.  I must admit that I’m still working on my comfort level with them, but have certainly converted over to the phones. I can take incredible pics on my Iphone, transfer pics between phones with fellow Iphoners by just tapping them together and Siri…well she answers just about every question that I toss out to her. I also do a great deal of business from the phone and it just works well for my busy lifestyle. I don’t leave home without it.

I’ll also be sharing some more travel info and tips throughout the coming months about best travel clubs, reward programs, credit cards and bank accounts to avoid fees for avid and new travelers. So…you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out. Until then, I bid you safe and happy travels.Continue to follow, to read more about the “Epicness” of the 2016 Global Expedition that’s underway! Peace and blessings to you all.

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Shot with my Iphone- In St. Maarten

Candacetravels’ Year In Review…

This is a republish from a December 2015 post! Remember to stay tuned for more epic adventures to come!!! The first destination for 2016 will roll out later this week.

Greetings fellow travelers and friends. As this year comes to a close, I am reminded of what a spectacular travel year it’s been! Together we reviewed some amazing (travel) products, as well as visited some of the most beautiful destinations around the globe (to learn more see the links below and this past year’s previous posts.) We looked at everything from best Lenovo laptops to take, for business and leisure travelers, to some of the tastiest gluten-free snacks to pack in our tote bags. It’s been one incredible journey and I’m so grateful to have taken it with all of you!

Now that our suitcases are all packed and ready to go (again,) thanks to our “Best Items to Pack: 2015 Suitcase Series,” it’s now time to review some new and exciting places to go. Stay tuned for Candacetravels’ epic, “2016 Global Travel Diary- Expedition.” Together we will uncover some  “must see” places around the world! You didn’t think we were just going to review all of those incredible products for our suitcases for nothing did you? Of course not! We’re rounding them all up again and preparing for our upcoming destinations. So…get ready… because we are about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime!!! Our first stop in January will include a southwestern, USA favorite. No, I’m not giving it away today, so you’ll just have to come back to find out more next month! 🙂

A HUGE thank you goes out to all of you for your support this year. It’s been my honor to serve as your travel guide and leisure expert. Let’s make 2016 a year to remember!!! Happy New Year and Happy Travels!!!

Review some of our favorite products and destinations for 2015 below!

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Sint Maarten

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Cannes, France

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Rome, Italy

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Pisa, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Palma de Mallorca, Spain

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Isle of Capri, Italy

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Norwegian EPIC

For more info on some of these destinations, you can read about my experience at the links below:

Basking in the Grandeur of the French Riviera

Solace by Sea on the Isle of Capri, Italy

The Majestic Splendor of St. Maarten

A Traveler’s Favorite Tech Companion: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, 2-in-1

The “Genius” Bag That Every Business Traveler and Entrepreneur Should Have

My suitcase series continues. My first September pick is a fantastic edition to our 2015 travel list. Find out more about this incredible product below!

How many times have we all rummaged through our laptop bags and carriers in search of earbuds or some other vital travel necessity during a trip? If you’re anything like me, then I’m sure you replied, “Often.” Have you ever wondered what life on- the- move would be like if you had a carry-all that was specifically designed to accommodate all of your travel essentials? Well… I have discovered the solution for you.  The answer is “Genius Pack.”  I first became acquainted with this remarkable luggage this past July, and have felt no compunction over our meeting since. It’s a well thought out line that is not only “genius,” but as their tag line boasts, is “Extremely Functional Luggage,” too.

For the past 6 weeks, I’ve had the satisfaction of carrying the Genius Pack Entrepreneur bag. It’s their standard, business carry- all bag that is perfect for  the local professional, just as much as it is for the staunch road warrior. At first appearance, you might compare this bag to a typical laptop bag, but it far surpasses any normal standards. For starters, it’s incredibly durable, and comes with water-proof protective coated zippers, a wide removable/adjustable padded shoulder strap and neoprene comfort-grip handles. It has ample interior padding and a specific compartment for just about every “thing” that one could imagine. There’s not only space for a laptop (up to 17”x4”x12”,) but also a dedicated section for a tablet. Additionally, there’s designated space labeled for each of the following; pens, business cards, headphones (earbuds,) the genius portable charging station, a pocket for a cell phone, room for the genius micro travel umbrella, or a comparable sized pop out one, an additional exterior front zip pocket and a back velcro- close pocket that runs the length of the bag. There is even a compartment for eyeglasses. Yes, eyeglasses! The Entrepreneur also comes with battery pack and speaker integration. This multifarious pack is indubitably the most considerate ever of the business professional and traveler’s needs.

Throughout my last assignment I was able to stay organized, locating every item I transported with simplicity. I didn’t have to go on a treasure hunt for an ink pen or business card, and could easily access my sunglasses once the sun set. It was an absolute dream. The Genius Pack team, whose luggage line rightfully lives up to its name, thought of it all- and this entrepreneur couldn’t be more satisfied. The Entrepreneur Genius Pack comes in two colors; Black and Ltd Edition Charcoal, it’s moderately priced and also comes with a 5 year warranty. This ultra functional bag can also be purchased in a leather version, for a more elegant look. For more information, visit www.geniuspack.com

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Genius Pack Entrepreneur bag- padded shoulder strap

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Entrepreneur bag compartments

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Water-proof protective coated zippers on the Entrepreneur bag

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The “Entrepreneur” Genius Pack

*I reviewed this sponsored product for Genius Pack. This has in no way altered my opinion of it, and I have provided readers insight, as well as my true experience with the item.

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