Housing Options are Numerous – Explore!

For many years, I have typically taken the safe route and stayed in brand name chain hotels when traveling throughout the states.  When traveling to the caribbean, I have typically looked into staying at all-inclusive resorts.  I chose the all-inclusives not because I was afraid to be among the locals, but because I was guaranteed to have all of my meals provided for and could guarantee a certain level of comfort and service to my liking— most of the time.  However, I have now discovered there is something to be said for straying from the beaten path and staying in a guest house or apartment.

As one who is a very picky eater, it can sometimes be challenging to find nutritious food that I will eat in all of my destinations.  Given the fact that most all-inclusives I have visited run approximately $150/night, I do not always get my moneys worth.  Yes, the rate includes alcohol and an unlimited beverages, as well as non-motorized sports, but I am not always drinking to exhaustion every night.  So, I have actually started reaching housing options that are centrally located, close to public transportation or the “local” (read non-touristy) taxis, and near a local market, convenience or grocery store.  With respect to the housing unit itself, I don’t need anything fancy.  Just clean with microwave and refrigerator and enough room for me to move about.  If there is a stove top or hot plate, that is a bonus.

There are a number of websites where you can explore non-traditional housing options; ;however, I am not paid to endorse any, so I will not in an open forum, but will be open to provide the information offline.  However, it is best to make sure you thoroughly research the sites, especially if they are located in countries where you have never visited.  All properties are going to display only the best pics online; no one is going to show you the dead roaches on the floor or the mold and mildew lurking in the shower corners.  So, read reviews from reputable sites and seek out the feedback from trusted friends of friends if possible.  If you are on facebook, there are quite a few travel groups with people who have joined the 100+ club and can be an invaluable free resource for you during this process.

Finally, trust your instinct.  If something seems too good to be true, listen to your gut.  Housing costs in the caribbean can range anywhere from $50/night for a studio to $2000+/night for a 1 bedroom swanky hotel room, as well as everything in between.  You are in control of your holiday and your pockets.  Do what works best for you, but just make sure that you take the time to thoroughly research your options and count all of your costs.

Safe and happy traveling people.

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Shots Shots Shots… Shots Shots

No, not the type of shots that make you dance with reckless abandon as if no one is looking (even though in this smartphone age everyone is).  Not the type of shots that make you laugh even though no one is telling a joke.  Nor the type of shots that make you forget what happen the next day and whether or not there are any videos of you dancing like a mad man (or woman).  But, these are the types of shots that you may not remember to get before taking that dream vacation.

It is important that you obtain important health information well in advance of your travels as you will probably need to provide evidence of a current immunization record.  If you are not sure whether or not you are required to be immunized prior to visiting a new destination, check well-known resources like the Department of State travel section, the US vaccination website, and the website for your final destination.  At a bare minimum you will need to up-to-date immunizations for the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR). Of course there are other diseases for which you will need to receive vaccinations, but you have to do be diligent regarding the research.

Once you’ve identified the shots that you need to obtain, it is all about timing.  Typically you want to get your immunizations two months prior to you your trip, but no less than one month.  Plan wisely as it may be difficult obtaining vaccinations during peak travel season or when individuals are headed to special events (Olympics, World Cup, etc.) in international destinations.  Contact your medical provider when planning your holiday for additional information and assistance.

Finally, you need to ascertain whether or not you need to pay for the immunization or if your insurance covers it.  The cost can be rather stiff, so you need to make sure you are prepared to cover it.  Once you have take care of everything, finish packing and sit back and enjoy a nice beverage.

On Cloud 9 – Miami Style

I normally do not start a post like this, but this one is the exception.  So, I will start by saying Miami Carnival 2K15 was the ISH!!  I don’t know who was in charge, but all I know was that I enjoyed myself.  No, I must add a caveat to this before I continue.  I had tickets to some of THE hottest fêtes, but a few weeks prior to carnival I settled in my mind that I would start selling some because I knew there were going to be some backstabbing, drama filled folks at the fêtes and I didn’t want to be around them.  However, I knew that I definitely was going to play Mas and jouvert.  Those were priorities, especially since they cost the most.  I was going to turn up because this would be my last Miami carnival so I had to go out with a bang.

So, on Thursday, my first fête was Arrivals.  A party sponsored by Trini Jungle Juice.  While I was happy to see several people I knew at the fête, I will have to give this one a 6 out of 10.  I found the vibes to be okay in my circle of frens, but I also found there to be a lot of stush people.  So, I stayed for approximately 3 hours and left.  I left just in time to make it to Generation X mas camp where I picked up my costume for Sunday and my Jouvert package.  Earlier in the day I arranged to sell my ticket for Tribe Ignite, so I skipped that particular fête.

Friday is typically reserved for boat rides.  My particular boat ride (of which I will not state the name) was slated to start at 5p.m.  So, having donned my cutest white shorts and my shades, I set out for south beach to meet up with a college friend for drinks.  We chatted for about an hour or so before it was time for me to depart since the boat was boarding at 5 and sailing at 6.  The distance between south beach and the dock for the boat was only 3 miles; however, it took well over 45 minutes for me to get there and I was so worried I would miss this boat that I almost started crying.  Well, I actually made it there with 15 minutes to spare before the boat started sailing… yeah right.  Let’s just say that they did not start boarding the boat until a little before 7 and sailed around 7:15p or so.  The food was blazzay blah and this was a rather interesting, but not so interesting crowd.  This ride gets 3 stars out of 10 for me.

Saturday, the day I waited for this whole time– Jouvert with Generation X and Soca Brainwash day.  Well, as it turns out again, I decided at the last minute to sell my Brainwash tickets, but I was doing Jouvert.  The start time was 7a.m. and it took me a while to get to the venue because my GPS decided that we needed to go somewhere else.  Anyway, I finally found the location around 7:30 and headed to the entry gate.  Due to the overwhelming crowds and lack of organization, it took about approximately 30 minutes to clear “security” and enter.  Once inside I headed to the Gen X truck for breakfast- two saltfish and bake and a vodka cranberry (doh judge me).  The band was in full pump and everyone was waiting and ready to go.

We finally hit the road to start jouvert and that is where the magic happens.  Gen X is pretty large, so it took a while to get moving and it was packed with people, so I moved over to the side walk and partied there with some of my new best friends and dem.  With vibes on 100 and drinks flowing, we wined, cock up the foot bottom, take jam, and did everything else under the sun.  I normally get totally covered with paint; however, since I was on the sidewalk, I didn’t get covered as much, but I still had ah time.  I met a nice person or two, photographed some hotties and then mother nature called.  Needless to say, when you are 10 drinks in, things happen.  I couldn’t figure out where the restrooms where, so I headed for the bushes and and that was pretty much the last thing I remember.

Sunday was Mas day.  Now, I was quite excited since this was my first Mas in Miami, but also quite nervous because that means I had to put on my costume.  Anyone who knows anything about carnival costumes knows that they are notorious for not fitting properly because they are usually manufactured in china.  If you are a woman with any type of curvature, you are going to be on display and show off what your momma and God gave yuh.  My roomie helped me get dressed, put the hair in a high pony, and pin me into my costume so I didn’t have any wardrobe malfunctions.  Fully dressed I took one pic (which I never do) and I had an epiphany. For the first time, I felt pretty.  I could not believe that I would look this way.

So, on the road I go to the Miami Dade Fairgrounds which was only 15 minutes away, but took over 45 minutes for me to enter due to the traffic.  We were advised to be there by 9:30 and breakfast would start at 10 with us on the road around 11… Now, I know better, but the yankee in me always has to follow the rules even when my head tell me they will not start on time.  Of course breakfast didn’t get set up until 11ish and we didn’t go on the road until 1p.m.  Once breakfast started, I got my double and then set out to meet up with one of my long time college friends while waiting for Mas to start.

Once on the road, pure madness once again.  I get pulled into a wine sandwich.  I am invited to tek jam on a man with a waist that pelt like no one business.  Drinks on 100, vibes on 100, and I am feeling mehself.  At one point, as I looked around at the crowd of smiling faces and people laughing, “wouldn’t it be nice if the world was like this?”  Just people from all walks of life living in harmony enjoying each other.  We chipped, wined and dipped until later in the evening when it was concert time.  Several of my friends were leaving because they had flights in the morning or were driving home.  I was going to stay because I didn’t want this night to end.  But, all good things must come to an end eventually.  However, my magical night ended with me being pulled backstage where I witnessed Miss Lucy a.k.a. Destra mash up di stage.  Can you say Yassssss?!!!  This night gets a 100 out of 10 for me.  GenX band was excellent, no stush vibes in site and I saw Destra.  What more can a woman ask for?

So, even though I didn’t do everything I originally planned months ago, Jouvert and Mas MORE THAN made up for it.  Too bad it was my last Miami carnival—- NOT!  I totally changed my mind after Sunday.  I have to do this at least one more time and this time I am recruiting the all-stars- my college friends so they too can be On Cloud 9!!