Traveling while Mommying

I have finally come to accept my role as the constantly over-dressed, well traveled family member. Ever since I was younger my family has always had a hard time keeping up my globally ambitious self. Although they seem to enjoy living vicariously through me and they always encourage me to continuously see the world, there's one comment that they all seem to cosign on that makes me instantly screw my face up.

"Enjoy it now because once you get married and have kids, you wont be able to do all this traveling" - Them

That statement alone always makes me become a little defensive. I know that there are some sacrifices that come with building a family, but I am someone who believes that if it's a passion of yours then all things are possible. You can do it all. Being married and having children should never act as a major roadblock to living out a dream. I don't believe in compromising my passions. Believe it or not but I have done enough of that in my 25 years on this earth and I am in a place where there's no more room for excuses or compromising my passions and the things that are important to me. I know that God loves me enough to send me someone whos burning desire to travel the world will either match mine or exceed it. And as a result, he will encourage us to continue doing what we love even when kids are involved.

We live in a world that seems to force the fact that we have to make a choice and "pick one". It's almost as if a career, a family, and a well tattooed passport cannot coexist. In the process of breaking cycles and unlearning some of the things that my loving parents have subconsciously taught me, having to make a choice between those things is a class I've decided to withdraw from. I plan on making extraordinary global memories with my future family. Although I am currently not in the process of building a family of my own, I am forever inspired by so many of the mommy bloggers in my social media community who make me believe that my dreams of continuing to see the world while being a super mom is most definitely possible. Below are just a few of my favorites:

Scout The City by Sai

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Sai De Silva is the fabulous mother of two ridiculously adorable kids, London Scout and Rio Dash. Her blog scoutthecity.com showcases the unique style her and her little ones posses and also includes tons of helpful travel posts. I thoroughly enjoy reading about Sai and her kids.To see more of their amazing style check out their IG page @scoutfashion

MelrWhite

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When it comes to super moms who do it all, Mel is always one of the first people I think of. Mel is the ultimate mompreneur. With her custom jewelry line, childrens book, business coaching webinars and E-Guides, it truly is amazing to see her handle these different business ventures and still make time to travel with her baby girl, AnnDrew. Check out her mommy & mini lifestyle blog indrewsshoes.com and follow her on IG @melrwhite. Be ready to fall in love with her style and AnnDrew's little face every time they pop up on your timeline.

Cherae Robinson

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Cherae and her son seem to be living their best lives exploring the world. This mommy and son duo seem to be the best of friends and what can better than traveling with your best friend? Charae is currently working with Tastemakers Africa, a company that's geared towards changing the way people view Africa by getting them to visit and do more than volunteer or go on safari. The Tastemakers Africa initiative is really inspiring and so is Charae's story on how she got there. Also, make sure you check out her IG @sasyrae

Tanai Benard

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Tanai Bernard and her 3 children are squad goals for real. As a divorced mother of three awesome little humans, Tanai has made it a priority to give her kids the best life by showing them the world. Tanai's lifestyle blog speaks of the different phases of life as a divorced woman and shares her truth in effort to empower and uplift women who are going through similar situations. Be sure to check out her blog and read about her adventures with her kids as well as her strength and lessons during this time in her life.

 

 

I know for a fact that it's not easy traveling with little ones, but that doesn't mean that the experiences will be anything short of amazing. These woman make it happen and I admire them for that. I am so grateful to be inspired by them and whenever a family member feels the need to tell me that my life as a constant traveler will be over once I have a family of my own, I will always remember these women and be reminded of the fact that all things are possible.

 

Are you a traveling parent? Feel free to share your experiences below. If you know of any traveling parents feel free to drop their social media handles down below as well. I'd love to check them out!

with love, Tor

Tips For Traveling As A Group

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We all know how difficult it can be to get a group of friends together for an eventful vacation where all of you can fully enjoy each others company while exploring somewhere new. With all of us being adults with our own set of responsibilities, schedules, and priorities, it can be extremely tough to get everyone on board for a much needed getaway. I know from experience just how hard it can be. Which is why I am so grateful that I have my sister as my travel buddy. We have been traveling as a pair since we were young and as we’ve gotten older we’ve added some close friends to our “travel crew”. It’s always fun, but it’s not always easy. If you are thinking about traveling more with your group of friends, here are a few tips to help you plan for your next group adventure.

  • Plan ahead

While my sister and I are a little impulsive when it comes to our trips, we always like to give ourselves at least 3-5 months to plan and book. The planning process includes researching flights, checking for hotel or Airbnb deals, deciding who to invite, and estimating how much we need to save. Once we have everything planned we waste no time booking our flights and hotel. We all know how quickly flight deals can change so when we see a good price we like to act on it fast. Most of the time when we go away we like to stay at an Airbnb because it's a little less expensive than a hotel and we enjoy the luxury of having more space for all of us in one place. When we book our flights and where we want to stay months in advance, it becomes easier to save money during the months leading up to the trip. Knowing that the trip is paid off takes the stress away. Now all you have to do is get there.

 

  • Plan with reliable people

Everybody can’t go. And I mean that with love. I truly do. But unfortunately, that’s just the reality of things. Every friend can’t come along on every trip. I know how it feels to want all the friends you love and care about in one place at the same time, experiencing the world with you. But I also know how it feels to extend the invitation and have very few of those friends show up or come through when it’s time to finalize the plans. I had to learn that some friends will get excited with you when you’re in the dreaming stage of planning a vacation, but they won’t always be there when it comes time for the real thing. There have been times where I had an opportunity to go somewhere and ended up missing out because a friend who said they wanted to go ended up bailing at the last minute. I started to become aware of who I invited and planned with and made sure that those people were people that I could count on. If you are planning to take a trip with a group of friends, make sure that the group you are traveling with is reliable. Make sure you can count on them to be there when it comes time to book, make payments, be involved, etc.

 

  • Understand the personalities you are traveling with

There’s nothing worse than being stuck on vacation, far away from the comfort of your home, with someone you have a hard time dealing with. I’m sure we’ve all watched an episode of ratchet TV where the women decide to take a trip knowing darn well they don’t get along, and it seems like all they do during their time on some beautiful island is fighting. I know I can’t be the only one who has watched an episode like that and thought “why would these grown women decide to put themselves in this position when they know they don’t get along?” We should all know our friends and how much of them, if not all of them, we can handle. And if a friend is deciding to bring someone outside of your core group of friends along on this vacation, make sure that you have met this person and are aware of their traits. I feel like we are all slightly different people when we are on vacation. It’s important to be aware and understanding of those personalities, and it's important to know yourself. I've been blessed to have travel with some pretty amazing, easy-going women. But traveling with a group of women with different personalities has definitely improved my sense of patience. 

 

  • Buddy System

While we are all grown and have our moments where we want to experience total independence on our trips and explore certain things on our own, it is important to stick together when in unfamiliar places. I am big on safety, especially as a young black woman, so it’s important to me that my friends and I stay together when we travel. There are moments where we will split up if some of us want to go do something and the rest would prefer to do something else but we never let anyone go alone and we always make sure we keep in contact with one another until the group meets back up. Stick together as much as you can and be aware of your surroundings.

 

  • Be honest about your budget

It’s so important to be honest about your budget and what you can afford during the trip. Now that the trip is paid for, everything is booked, and the official countdown has begun, its important to be honest about your budget with your travel group. If you are going through some financial setbacks that may force you to be a little more frugal during your trip, tell your group so that they know what you are working with and what you all can do as a group that you wont feel excluded from. Don’t be embarrassed. If these are really your friends they will understand. However don’t expected everyone to have a cheap trip just because you can’t afford to do everything. Everyone should be fair.

 

  • Keep an itinerary that is full of options

When you are traveling with a group of friends its obvious that although everyone is happy to just be around each other and they are excited to be traveling to a new place, its important to keep everyone’s interest in mind when putting together an itinerary. When my girls and I travel we like to keep our plans for our trip flexible. Our lives back home are structured enough on a day-to-day basis,  so when we go away we don’t really like to have a super a set schedule. During the months leading up to our trip we all do our own individual research and look for things that we would like to do and send links to our group chat. My core travel group is usually down for whatever as long as its within reason so we really don’t have any conflict when it comes to planning. We throw a bunch of things out there and decide what we will do once we arrive.

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I hope these tips help you and your friends as you guys plan your next group trip. Have any questions or additional advice? Leave a comment below! 

 

with love, Tor

Traveling While Natural: Hair Care Tips for Naturals

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I was introduced to the difficulties of dealing with natural hair while on vacation at a very young age. Every summer vacation my mom would make sure that my hair was braided up because 1. "you ain't getting your hair wet if it ain't braided." and 2. "ain't nobody gon keep doing your hair every time you mess it up because you want to play around and be rough." Ever since I was a little girl, I believed that vacation meant protective, low-maintenance hairstyles ONLY. I am a lazy natural. Although I love my hair and I manage to take very good care of it, I don't always enjoy doing it because of the amount of time it takes. My hair is thick and curly and is now at a length that increases the amount of time it takes to style it. Vacation is supposed to be a time for you to relax and enjoy the experience. Your only worry should be which item off the drink menu you are going to try first, not what to do with you hair. I've put together a list of tips that I feel might be helpful to my fellow natural girls. 

  • Deeeeep Condition Those Curls

No matter what style you plan on doing for your next trip, it's so important to deep condition or to do some sort of hair treatment before you go away. Since you'll be away from home for a while, you might be not be doing the daily routine maintenance that you would normally do. Deep conditioning your hair really well before you go away makes things a long easier if you plan on rocking your own hair during your trip. It also helps protect your hair underneath, if you decide to opt for a protective style. I like do to two different conditioning treatments the week before or leading up to the day I leave for a trip. I'll do a regular deep condition/hair mask one day and then a hot oil treatment two days after. My hair is a spoiled brat and requires a lot of attention, so applying those two different methods before styling for/ during vacation gives it what it needs so that I can enjoy my trip without worrying about it too much. 

 

  • Protective Styles

This year I was introduced to the wonderful world of wigs and honestly, I am so grateful to be part of the wig-wearers club. In the past, I was totally against wigs. I hated how the majority of the wigs that I encountered LOOKED like wigs. I am a woman of discretion and privacy and it just didn't sit well with me knowing that people would be able to tell that I was wearing a wig. But the wig industry has changed so much and I began to see wigs that made me change my mind about how I felt about them. The first wig I ever tried was a half wig. I was intrigued by the fact that I could leave my hair out in the front, so I figured that would be a good start for me. I went with a curly textured wig that matched my natural curly texture and left a good amount of my hair out in the front and braided the rest of my hair in cornrows. Baby, listen. I fell in love immediately! It blended so well and because my hair was out in the front, it gave everything a more natural look. I love curly wigs for trips where I know the weather will be hot and there's a possibility that I'll be getting in/near some body of water. If I know that I'll be somewhere colder, then I'll go for a straight half wig. Both options are very low-maintenance and will probably be my go-to protective styles for vacations forever. Braids and twist are also great low maintenance styles. YouTube taught me how to twist my hair myself (shoutout to the million natural hair youtubers that I spent hours watching). Both wigs and twists (if you learn to do them yourself), will save you so much time and money when it comes to vacationing as a natural. 

 

  • Pack Light *Erykah Badu Voice*

I don't know about you, but I know that I would need a separate carry-on for my hair alone. Between styling tools and products I feel are necessities, I'd probably have to check two suitcases. To avoid feeling pressured by my hair to bring every hair care product I own, I try to only pack and/or shop for products that have multiple benefits rather than bringing a million different things that have a million different jobs. I normally travel with a co-wash that also acts a deep conditioner, a leave-in conditioner that also specializes in heat projection, an oil (black castor oil or tea tree oil), and some sort of edge control or light weight gel That's it. Each of those products have at least 2 jobs and require no special tricks when applying.

As far as styling tools are concerned, I always try to make sure that I pack my own blow dryer and/or diffuser. I can't even tell you guys how many times I though to myself "Oh the hotel will have a blow dryer, I'll be fine", only to get there and discover some little tiny blow dryer that is proven useless for my hair. The only time I need a blow dryer is if I'm wearing my hair curly and I need to diffuse it. My hair takes forever to air dry so if I know that there's a possibility that I might get my hair wet or I might need to quickly co-wash my hair to refresh my curls, then I make sure to pack my blow dryer with my diffuser attachment. 

Another thing that I recommend you bring is a satin pillowcase. I am not a bonnet girl. I don't like the way they look on me. Yes, I know, I'm only going to bed. But I like to wake up looking like a breath of fresh hair on a sunny Saturday morning (in my head), and bonnets don't make me feel like I that. Which is why I settle for satin pillowcases. This allows me to sleep knowing my hair is being protected just as if I were back home. 

 

  • Cover it up

No one can predict a bad hair day. They just kinda happen and sometimes it feels like there's nothing we can do to rectify the issue. That's why it's so important to bring cute hats and fashionable head wraps for days when the unpredictable happens. I always travel with at least 2 hats (both of different styles), and 2 head wraps. This way, I have options and I don't have to worry about looking back at pictures and seeing the same "I'm having a bad hair day" look in several vacation pictures.

 

Like I said before, the last thing that we want to worry about while on vacation is our hair. While I'm sure these tips will be helpful, let's never forget why we are traveling in the first place. And whatever troubles your hair may give you while you are away, never let it put a damper on your trip :) 

 

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Any questions about specific products I use? Have any other tips about how to care for natural hair while on vacation or products that you think everyone should try? Feel free to share in the comments section below! 

with love, Tor

 

What Cuba Taught Me: The Lessons I Learned in The Heart of Havana

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As I get older and my travel experiences broaden, I always make sure that I am actively trying to learn something new on each trip. Whether it's something new about myself, the people I'm traveling with, the country/state, or all of the above, I always make sure that I am taking something of intellectual value away from each experience. 

I learned a lot about myself and the city of Havana during my time in Cuba. Below are a few of the most important things that Cuba taught me:

  • The small things in life are always worth appreciating. 

That isn't necessarily a "new" lesson, but it is a lesson that I am always grateful to be reminded of. Most of the people of Cuba have very little and most areas appear more war-torn than others. Considering we stayed at an Airbnb that was located right in the middle of Havana, we really got to experience how the people of Cuba live. They didn't have much but they made the best of everything that was available to them. Everyday the streets were full of life and everyone seemed so content with their current lives. Seeing how little they had and how they were all still in good spirits was very heartwarming and made me reflect on the "little things" in my life that I sometimes take for granted. 

  • Trust that there are good people in the world. 

When taking the risk to travel to a new place where you know NO ONE, navigating through unfamiliar territory can be scary sometimes. And asking for directions when you aren't fluent in their native language can make things even tougher. During our time in Cuba, we relied on the natives for navigation most times. We mostly voyaged where it was familiar and made sure we payed attention to distinctive landmarks while we were exploring. But on days where we needed to get to specific beaches or were looking for specific stores that weren't near our usual places, we were left with no choice but to ask for directions. Every time we asked someone for directions they were more than willing to give us clear directions. Even when we hopped in cabs without knowing where we were going, they made sure that we got there safely. Being from New York, I can't say that I have experienced that level of kindness in a busy city. There are always stories about travelers (particularly women) getting lost or going missing in unfamiliar places and I thank God that we did not have to experience that in Cuba. This is another lesson that wasn't new to me, but it was reinforced during this trip. Knowing what I know about the people of Cuba does not make me naive, but it does makes me more aware of my better judgment.

  • Being disconnect is beautiful.

As I mentioned in my previous post about Cuba, there was no cell phone service where we stayed and in order to get any type of wifi or cell service we had to walk to the nearby hotel, purchase a wifi card, and use it there. I am the girl who steals a few minutes to check her work/business emails while she's at a party (its a bad habit that I'm working on), so when we got there the first day I found myself internally freaking out about not being able to use my phone to make calls, send/recieve text messages, or check my email. But once the shock wore off the next day, I was completely fine with being disconnected. There have been so many times where I have been away on vacation and although I was in such a beautiful place and truly enjoying my time, I was still worried about pictures and posting and being connected to my world back home. This was the first time where I was completely unable to be reached and it actually felt amazing. I was able to put more of my focus on my time there than on things that weren't significant during those moments. Since Cuba I have vowed to minimize my phone use when I travel and to be in the moment and enjoy my surroundings more. 

 

I learned a lot of things about Cuba and myself during this trip and knowing what I know makes me eager to go back and see what else there is to learn.

 

with love, Tor

 

 

Cuba

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My trip to Cuba was nothing short of amazing. I experienced so much and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to such a beautiful place with 3 extraordinary women. This was easily one of the most cultural vacations I've taken. From the food to the people to the atmosphere, everything was eye opening. Although they do not have much, the people of Havana seemed so full of life. The streets were constantly busy and filled with music, laughter, and conversation. We stayed at a really nice AirBnb that was right in the heart of Havana. The apartment we stayed at was fully furnished and walking distance from the local stores, restaurants,  and hotels. Our host was phemoninal and even provided us with a cell phone so that we could get in contact with him at any time. Waking up to the sounds of roosters, Spanish tunes, and children playing didn't bother me one bit. I enjoyed being in the mix of it all. Cuba is definitely one of those places that I will visit again.  

I traveled to Cuba back in March, but ever since then I've had people constantly ask me questions regarding where to stay, what to do, where to eat, what to bring, etc. I managed to help at least 6 people de-stress and enjoy their trip to Cuba, and that makes me so happy. So I've put together this list of helpful tips that I've been able to share with others and I hope the they work for you!

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  • There are no ATM's but you have the opportunity to convert your American dollars at the airport before you board your flight or you can wait until you arrive in Cuba and convert your money at one of the many conversion kiosks. The best thing to do is to convert your American dollars to euros at the airport and then convert the euros to pesos once you get to Cuba. You get a better value for your money when you do it that way. 
  • Although staying at a hotel might have been nice, I suggest staying at an AirBnb because it was truly an amazing experience to be right in the heart of Havana with the locals. The busy streets and the music was a great thing to wake up to each morning. 
  • You will need a Travel Visa and it's really simple to obtain. Since we flew with JetBlue, they offer a Visa for $50, however that required us to be at the airport 3-4 hrs before our flight. The other option is to apply for one online and have it shipped to you. If you are going to apply for one online then you should do it a month before your trip. Because I didn't want to deal with any interruptions while getting a Visa at the airport (the current President gives me anxiety and I wasn't dealing with the BS), I decided to purchase mine online at www.passportsandvisas.com
  • There is very little cell phone service, but if you absolutely need to use your phone for any reason then you can go to one of the hotels and purchase a wifi card. But keep in mind that the wifi is still limited.
  • There is this app called maps.me that you can download. It's a GPS and you don't need wifi to use it. It will help you find local stores, clubs, restaurants, etc. 
  • Taxis are easy to catch and the prices are negotiable. Almost everyone there drives a taxi as their side hustle, and they're all more than welcome to take tourist wherever they want to go.
  • We took part in a bike tour around all of Havana (and other parts of Cuba). Although we stopped a few times to enjoy the sites, rest our legs, and grab a snack, I'd be telling a big fat lie if I said that bike tour didn't kill me. It was so tough and the rainstorm that we encountered during the bike ride didn't make it any easier. But I will admit that I was able to learn a lot and it was a great experience.
  • The Malecon is the Cuban version of the Vegas strip. There's a lot going on at night. 
  • Plaza Vieja is really nice. Tons of live music and shops. The food spots in this area are a little expensive though. 
  • Disco Habana Club and Rio Club have great music
  • Fabrica de Arte is a huge art gallery that turns into a night club. The line to get in was ridiculous but there was no cover and you pay for your drinks and stuff at the end before you leave. They stay open really late. 
  • El Floridita is a really good restaurant with great prices. My girls and I enjoyed fantastic lobster dinners every night for such great prices. 
  • STAY SAFE. I know that's not a tip that I have to share with you because we are all adults here, but I feel better knowing I added here. Though the people of Cuban were very friendly and welcoming, things can get a little scary at night and it's important to be aware of your company and surrounding. 

That's all the valuable info that I can think of right now, but If you guys have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Until then, Enjoy some more pictures!

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