Candacetravels

The Travel Diary

Tag: leisure travel (Page 1 of 2)

Septembers to Remember!

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Hello Fellow Travel Enthusiasts! We meet again. My sincere apologies to all of you for my absence!! The months of July and August were both quite busy, so I did not get the opportunity to share any new content. However, I am back in action and ready to share lots of nuggets of travel gold with each and everyone of you. So here goes!

Starting out, I would like to share some past experiences, that can help make your next celebration a special one! September just so happens to be my birthday month, so I am doing a bit of a flashback, to share some of my most memorable (birth month) moments from September’s past. I am a huge fan of birthdays, primarily because I realize that another year of life is an incredible gift… and secondary, because I love an opportunity to celebrate!! Can you blame me? Who doesn’t love a grand affair, dinner at a swanky social club, or dancing under the Eiffel Tower? Count me in anytime for all of the above. I am here for all of it and I relish the moments that I get to spend with family and friends.

Some of my favorite memories include one of the best birthday presents EVER…and that was getting my first article published in September of 2013! Can you say, “excited.” That would have been an understatement to describe how I felt that year. Yes, my piece on the beautiful island of Curacao, was published in Global Living Magazine’s September/October edition! I wrote all about this spectacular Caribbean gem and about many of the fantastic places on the island. From the Queen Emma bridge, to Kura Hulanda Museum. Check it out! Then there was that one year (2012) I had a rooftop party in Atlanta (at Rooftop 866,) called the “Sapphire Affair,” where all my guests were charged with the task of arriving in various hues of amazing blues, to accompany the theme of the posh affair. It was fabulous, I even had custom M&Ms with my face on them!! Also, I cannot forget my time in Panama City, where I noshed out on all types of deliciousness and basked upon the ocean for 3 days witnessing creation at its finest….By the way, Captain Andy even let me get behind the wheel, on one of our day trips out. It was the best! I most definitely cannot exclude last year, 2016, from the list, considering I danced beneath the Eiffel Tower, dined throughout the city of Paris and combed the streets in search of great finds (when I wasn’t working that is,) just a couple weeks after my actual birthday with friends. It is going to be difficult to top 2016! However, there was that one birthday I spent in Vegas taking goofy photos with the Blue Man Group in 2009 and another where I spent the entire month celebrating in Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater and Orlando, in 2011. Oh…and what about 2013, when I had a party at Pier W off the Lake (Erie) in my hometown of Cleveland??…I most definitely cannot leave that year off the list. There have been so many wonderful Septembers to Remember that I am just grateful for them all and always looking forward to the next! I hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane and that you got some fun ideas for your next born day celebration. Side note- I had to stop here, or we would have gone on for days, looking back over all of my birthday celebrations! There have been many many more, but if I go on, I will end up having to tell my age 🙂

Follow me on Instagram at Candacetravels, for more September Birthday flashback photos!!  Until next time, happy and safe travels to you all!

Candacetravels

 

 

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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Sweet Adventures!

Happy early Valentine’s Day to my fellow travelers who celebrate! I’m writing this post on the eve of this beloved, nationally recognized Love Day, and flashing back. Last February 14th, I had the pleasure of roaming the streets of South Beach, before heading out on a 4 country Caribbean tour.Those were great times last year, but I am so ready for some adventures. I really don’t mean to complain because living in Florida certainly does afford you certain vacay-like opportunities on a regular basis, but come on..who doesn’t love a great (new) expedition, every now and then (or monthly, lol.) That would so totally work for me. In any case,  there’s something so incredibly amazing about combing new territory and discovering the unknown -that just gets me all excited!! I’m sure many, if not all of you, can relate. So on that note, buckle up, because we’ll be heading out soon. Get ready for some new, new, new adventures. Unfortunately, I’ll be spending this Valentines evening doing…uhm…much of nothing, unlike last year’s travel schedule…but we’ll be flying the friendly skies again soon. Don’t feel bad for me though at all. I’ll be laughing and smiling, eating strawberries by the pool. Ha! I had to slide that in, just in case someone out there in The Travel Diary land started getting all teary-eyed, when they read that I didn’t have plans. I’ll be spending part of the time on my tablet, planning Sweet NEW Adventures. So again, enjoy your V-tines Day this week travel- lovers, and for those of you who will be somewhere super cool, doing something totally fun, be sure and tag me on IG in some pictures. I’d love to see how you’re spending Cupid’s favorite day of the year! I bid you peace, love and new adventures. Until next time friends, safe travels!❤️

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Some Sweet Shop on South Beach February 2016

 

 

 

 

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 Tips for Spontaneous Travel…

 

How long has it been since your last, spur of the moment getaway? If you took longer than 30 secs to answer, then boy are you overdue for a trip! Not sure when you will find the time to steal away? Well, here are 3 quick tips to help get you out of the office-and on the road, or in the air today.

  1. Pack a Bag

Whether you choose a weekender or duffle bag, just grab something- and fill it up! Yes, pack it and leave it out in eye view. Place it outside of your closet, or somewhere near your bed..so that perhaps, you can trip over it, lol. Let it serve as a constant reminder to you that some time away- is needed soon. Also, don’t forget to toss in your favorite travel  and lifestyle magazines, books and any favorite, non-perishable snacks that you’d most enjoy.

     2. Prepare Cameras & Other Devices

Pull that camera from atop the shelf in your closet and charge up that battery -NOW! Gather your flashes, hoods, lenses, SIM cards, as well as any portable chargers, adapters or other must-haves, for the road. Once you’ve collected all the items, toss them in the bag that you packed, and again, remember to set it outside of your bedroom closet. Yes, that weekender that you’re going to keep bumping into- unless you get serious about getting away!

      3. Create a Checklist

The major benefit of having a check-list readily available, is that you’ve already taken all the guess work out. Remember, spontaneous trips are…well… spontaneous! We’re cheating a little by preparing in advance, but it’ll be oh so worth it. Make a list of necessary contact numbers and must-do’s before leaving the premises today. This will ensure that you’re not disregarding any previously confirmed engagements, nor sacrificing any necessities in the last minute process. Have a person or kennel on hand that would agree to keep your pet or mini-you (like an overnight daycare,or trusted granny, who never turns down time with your favorite little persons,) for a day or two, on short notice. Let these individuals know ahead of time that one day in the very near future, you will be calling them for help! It may surprise you to see just how much they’ll encourage you to do it, too. Also, remember to make arrangements now (by putting them on notice that a spontaneous getaway is in the making) for taking out the trash or picking up the mail.

Sooo, now that you’re ready- you are going to ditch work one Friday, (only if you have vacation time to use…and even if you don’t,) and catch a flight or hop in the car for the spur-of-the-moment time of your life!

Now that you are all set- get ready for some spontaneous travel fun! Share your stories with the Candacetravel team when you return, as well as of any adventures from your last spur-of-the-moment trips. We’d love to hear from you!! Safe travels!

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Charles de Gaulle Airport- Paris, France

 

 

 

The Perfect Stowaway

Looking for the perfect “stowaway” for your summer 2016, travel schedule? If so, then do I have a great suggestion for you. It’s a traveler’s favorite- the fantastic line of Stowaway Cosmetics. I’ve trekked across the country with these goodies for the last 3 months, and it’s been quite the pleasure having them in tow. Since I now refuse to leave home without them, you can bank on spotting me with one or more of the beauty products on. From the smooth and silky lipstick, to the gorgeous, natural shades of the eye shadow palette, these beauty enhancers are a must-have for your upcoming adventures. Below are my top 3 reasons why you should add Stowaway Cosmetics to your packing list- today.

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  1. Size

Stowaway Cosmetics are compact and portable. They are the ideal size for weekend getaways or even extended business or leisure trips. The primary benefit to having smaller sized cosmetics, is that they take up much less space. As a result, they leave room in your make-up bag for other essential travel items; like nail files, facial cleansers and mini perfume bottles. The lipstick tube is about the length of a pinky finger and the eyeliner is about the size of a ring finger, whereas the cheek and lip rouge is just a tad larger than a silver US dollar. The eye shadow palette is the size of a hotel room key (or credit card,) and the mascara stick, complexion balm (foundation) and tiny concealer are about 2/3rds the size of traditional ones. Since I’ve become a minimalist over the last couple of years, these items work well with my current lifestyle. I’m certain that just about every road warrior and person on-the-go, would appreciate this line. Aside from being an absolute home-run for travelers, Stowaway is also fantastic for nights out on the town. They fit perfectly into just about any clutch, wristlet or small purse.

Where has Stowaway Cosmetics been all of my life???

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Stowaway Cosmetics- Taken at The Ritz Carlton- Pentagon City, Arlington, VA

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Lipstick tube in comparison to a standard M.A.C. tube

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Essential Eye Palette – The size of my (The) Ritz Carlton hotel room key

  1. Customization of Products & Packaging

It’s easy to customize a kit online, as well as to select individual items. The online store is user friendly and provides information about each beauty product. The available colors are listed under each item, along with the price. The Stowaway Cosmetics line (lipsticks, rouges and lip glosses) primarily features colors within the pink and mauve family. There is also a beautiful red, creme lipstick to choose from and a range of moisturizing tints. The Essential Eye (Shadow) Palette is comprised of beautiful matte and shimmer earth tones that can also be used for brows, as well as for a liner. The gorgeous Cheek and Lip Rouge complements the lipstick and lip gloss line impeccably, and the Effortless Eyeliner and Extreme Lash Mascaras both come in black, and the eyeliner is offered in brown as well.  Most of the products come in a cute matte, gray encasement with the word “Stowaway” in white – on the outside of them, and the Radiant Complexion Beauty Balm cream moisturizer and Creaseless Concealer come in white tubing with gray lettering. The packaging is adorable!

When my kit arrived, it was in the most charming little white box with all of my goodies packed away inside!

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Stowaway Cosmetics upon arrival- in individual boxes

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Stowaway Cosmetics upon arrival- enclosed in tissue paper and label

  1. Use

Product Review

I have used all of my Stowaway products for the last few months, and have really enjoyed them. They have traveled with me from airport to airport and from hotel to home and all points in between. They’ve held up well under fierce travel conditions and have proved to be durable despite being small.

Use- I really like the feel and the creaminess of the raspberry lipstick. It’s brighter than what I normally wear, but I wanted to step out-the-box with this one a bit. It feels great on my lips and complements my rich brown tones. The mascara is also pretty great and goes on easily. I like the thickness of the product, for the perfect lash. The eyeliner is soft and silky, but actually takes a few applications before showing up for me. The cheek and lip rouge is a real winner. I appreciate that it’s a two-in-one, allowing for maximum use. I can wear it on my lips and cheeks, which cuts out the need for a separate lipstick tube some days. It’s cremey and applies rather effortlessly for a little pop of color. The eye palette is probably my most favorite of the bunch, because of the beautiful earth tone shades. I typically aim for a more natural look, so the long lasting colors worked well for me. The complexion balm wasn’t exactly a match for my skin tone, especially since I’m summer sun-kissed, so I passed it on to my niece. I’m a deep caramel and rich brown, so the darkest shade available, “tan,” wasn’t quite deep enough for me. However, I did like the texture of it when I tried. Even though it is a tad darker than what my niece normally wears, she loved it! The concealer was equally as smooth, but was also a shade or two lighter than my normal tint. This too, was passed onto my niece, and she absolutely adored it. She said that it was one of the best concealers that she’s ever used- and that’s a real complement coming from her. She is a makeup connoisseur. She models, dances and acts, so she takes her beauty items very seriously. I look forward to seeing the addition of some new tints and lipstick/gloss colors in the future, but all and all, my overall experience with Stowaway Cosmetics has been an extremely positive one!

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Raspberry Lipstick and Peony Cheek and Lip Rouge 

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Radiant Complexion Beauty Balm and Creaseless Concealer -both in “Tan”

Stowaway products are cruelty, paraben and phthalate -free, and are appropriately priced. From $8 for tinted lip glosses, to $22 for beauty balms, these items are a treat.

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Stowaway Cosmetics Packed inside my Tumi bag with room to spare

*I reviewed these sponsored products for Stowaway Cosmetics. This has in no way altered my opinion of them, and I have provided readers insight, as well as my true experience with the beauty items. 

 

 

 

Packing Tips: How To Pack The Right Way

How difficult is it to pack some trips? If you’re anything like me, then you may have to decide between travel companions. When an assignment comes in, I have the daunting task of selecting who will accompany me. No, I’m not talking about a person, but instead am referring to which of my lovely travel bags will have the pleasure. If it’s a short trip, then possibly my Vera Bradley backpack will do. However, if I have need additional items, then it may require my faithful (of over 20 yrs,) Ralph Lauren tote bag and small roller bag. Then there’s my trusty Genius Pack Entrepreneur laptop bag, my large roller bag…my denim duffle, and of course my many weekenders to choose from. Regardless of who makes the cut, it’s super important that I have room for all the essentials- for my journey. For packing tips, click here to review a great little visual guide to help you prepare, before your next trip. Happy packing and safe travels!!!

IMG_4971Short trip- leaving out of MCO Airport – Vera Bradley Backpack Weekend

Travel ABCs

Bon Bini, Bon Bini fellow global citizens and friends! Our 2016 Global Expedition continues. Today we’re going to discuss the ABCs of travel…. by reviewing the ABC Dutch islands in the Caribbean, which are comprised of- Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. I spent time in two of the three islands in February and had a spectacular time.

My first stop was to Aruba, where I experienced everything from deluxe spa services, to fine dining. I also intermingled with other guests from across the globe and lounged by the sea. I danced my way through the butterfly farm, which helps protect the vast number of species they have housed, and said a prayer atop the hill at the oldest church, Alto Vista Chapel, on the island. I was also blown away by the splendor of the natural bridge remnants and the pristine white beaches. I slept peacefully in plush amenities at Divi Golf & Beach Resort and Divi Phoenix each night, and relished in a variety of gourmet dishes each day at Windows and pureocean between outdoor activities. From the management down, staff and service was superb and amenities were plentiful! In Aruba, you can relax on the gorgeous white sand beaches, explore the magnificence of the marine life within the depths of the sea, dine on tantalizing cuisine from fresh seafood to gourmet pasta dishes, and make new friends along the way. It was one unforgettable time on the beautiful island of Aruba!

ArubaNaturalBridgeRemnants

Natural Bridge Remnants- Aruba

My next stop was to Bonaire, by way of Curacao. My flight from Aruba was routed through the fantastic final leg of the trio of islands (Curacao,) which we’ll address after Bonaire. When I think of Bonaire I automatically think of tranquility. Everything about this land speaks peace and incomparable beauty. It’s like a hidden diamond in the rough, peaking out from beneath a cover. It’s a conservation haven and brilliant underwater idyll. It’s so remarkably wonderful and calming, but has the option for big adventure- like diving throughout the island or windsurfing over at Jibe City! One of the primary reasons tourists visit Bonaire is for the diving! The clear sea waters provide direct access to the colorful sea life, which are synonymous to a box of crayons, making for a photographer’s dream. After long, full days, I rested peacefully, seaside each night at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino, and chomped down at Chibi Chibi and pureocean. The entire staff, including the resort manager, was just wonderful. Get your underwater and above sea cameras ready for one unforgettable time. Bonaire undoubtedly leaves a lasting impression on everyone.

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Jibe City- Bonaire

The last and final leg of the trio is Curacao. I first visited this island some years back and was completely smitten with its offerings. I enjoyed everything from the acclaimed, Queen Emma swinging bridge, to the chilling exhibits found at the Kura Hulunda museum, which takes you on a journey back in time, to the Dutch slave trade. I was captivated by the range of activities available to guests of the island. I was so visually excited by all the colors of the buildings to the lovely flamingos at the aquarium, which can be found on all three islands. Their rich color is reminiscent of that which typically only meets you in your dreams. While there, I stayed at the fantastic Hilton hotel and filled my belly with all sort of delectables at Aqua Restaurant and at Captain Bligh’s bar each day. The entire staff was great and I was super excited to earn all those international Hilton points. Can’t wait to go back to Curacao!

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Queen Emma Bridge- Curacao

Now that you’ve learned your ABC’s won’t you sing along with me….”The Dutch Caribbean is ahhhh-mazing.” Make plans to spend your next holiday at one or all three of these magnificent islands- for one enormous adventure packed time! Until next time, safe and happy travels to you!

 

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