What Inspires You To Travel?

Nomadness Travel Tribe

It's the Nomadness Travel Tribe at the L.A. Times Travel & Adventure Show!

Do you have a wandering spirit? Are you always itching for your next trip? Well…join the club!

Over the weekend I attended yet another travel show. Although I just spent time wandering the booths of the Travel & Leisure Show in Long Beach just two weeks ago, over the weekend I did it all over again at the L.A. TImes Travel & Adventure show. Although it seemed that some of the exhibitors from the previous show were missing, especially those from Caribbean countries, I had a great time nonetheless.

If you’ve never been to a travel show it’s basically a huge commercial inviting you hit the road. Whether you’re interested in international trips or local excursions, you can find just about anything on the floor of the show.

From most countries around the world to zip lining, rock climbing, and at the previous show, scuba diving, you can find just about everything at the travel show.

As I went from booth to booth, I struck up conversations with tour operators, members of various tourism boards and fellow travelers (and wannabe travelers). Although the room was FULL of diverse people from all around the world, one thing we all had in common was a love of travel.

While I was in awe at the sheer numbers of people itching to hit the road, I wondered what their motivation was for traveling. Are they just tourists who like to hit the well-known spots, or are they seasoned travelers who long to experience the “real” culture of a local place? Either way, every person I encountered had an insatiable appetite to travel the globe.

As I mentioned before, I was inspired to travel by my parents who took me and my brother on several trips when we were young. Although we didn’t have a lot of money, we still packed up the car or hopped on a plane and saw something more than our neighborhood.

Now that I’m a mother I’m inspired by my son. I want to show him, just as my parents did, that there is more to the world than what he sees every day.

But enough about me…what inspires you to travel? 

Photo Trippin’: San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bride...in the fog (of course!).

Have you been to San Francisco?

Two years ago (my, how time flies!) le kid and I drove up the coast and visited San Francisco. Although I’m a native California girl, would you believe I had never been to ‘Frisco? Shocking! But faced with a summer off from work, I was determined to hit the road and finally visit Sucka Free City.

Because images often speak louder than words, I thought I’d take you on a tour of San Fran via some of the pictures I snapped during the trip.

Enjoy!

A close-up of one of San Francisco’s famed trolleys.

San Francisco Trolley

San Francisco Trolley

What would San Fran be without a trip to Fisherman’s Warf?

Fisherman's Warf San Francisco

Fisherman's Warf San Francisco

San Francisco is also know for its museums. We especially enjoyed the California Academy of Sciences Museum

California Academy of Sciences Museum

Living Roof at California Academy of Sciences Museum

The Living Roof at California Academy of Sciences Museum

We LOVED are trip to San Francisco and look forward to going back soon!

Union Square, San Francisco

Union Square, San Francisco

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What were your favorite parts of the city? 

London Lowdown, Part 1 (with video!)

London, Buckingham Palace

Outside of Buckingham Palace

Last month I took my first solo trip across the Pond and landed in London, England. Although I had been planning my trip for MONTHS (and dreaming about it even longer), once I was on the plane I was FILLED with nervous energy.

The questions ran through my head:
Would I have fun alone?
Would I get mugged?
What if I got lonely?
What if I lost my passport?
I’m on a budget, can I REALLY have a good time in one of the most expensive cities in the world?
HELP! I’m going to London alone!!

Luckily, all of my nervousness melted away once I touched down and began to feel the infectious vibe of the city. I’m going to go into my trip in more detail a little later, but just know that I had an AMAZING time and all of my fears were unfounded.

While I was in London (and Paris!) I connected with a lot of really amazing people, I went out EVERY night (yes alone), and in all eight days I spent wandering the city, I never experienced a dull moment. Not one.

I made sure to take lots of pictures and even shot some video footage while I was there, so I decided to do a quick clip about my trip.

Check it out & let me know what you think!

Have you ever been to London? What did you enjoy most?

Feeling Cultured at the L.A. County Museum of Art

A section of the Berlin Wall in Los Angeles

A section of the Berlin Wall in Los Angeles.

Who doesn’t love pretty pictures? Even if you’re like me and can only name a handful of artists, I have a profound appreciation for the arts.

Over the weekend, le kid and I made our way to the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA). They were having a Target-sponsored family day, and since the kid (plus an adult) got in free, I figured…why  not?

We’d been to LACMA a few times before, but like most museums, the exhibits are constantly changing. This time they were showing a collection of Californian art, as well as a new instillation piece called Metropolis II that I knew le kid would LOVE (here’s a hint: it’s all about cars).

Metropolis II at LACMA

He was TOTALLY into Metropolis II

We arrived at the museum a little after 1pm, and lucikly, we were able to score street parking across from the museum (saved us $8). When we got to the campus, we strolled through the courtyard looking at the stations set up for the kids. The museum was also celebrating the Chinese New Year and kids were able to make masks, as well as learn about what “sign” they fell under according to the Chinese astrological calendar.

The kid didn’t feel too crafty, so we decided to head into the museum. We strolled through the California art exhibit, which also included a section on Spain’s influence on indigenous populations in the Americas.

After we toured those exhibits, we hit up the “modern art” building. Surprisingly, le kid had a lot to say about almost every piece that we saw, and really enjoyed himself. Even though he’s just 6, he had very strong opinions on what pieces he liked and why. I was very impressed!

(check out a video I made of our trip!)

Eventually, we made our to the Metropolis II exhibit, a whirling art piece with 1001 handmade die cast cars and trains moving at extremely fast speeds. There was a bit of a line to see it, but it was well worth it…the kid thoroughly enjoyed watching the cars whizz by!

Although we didn’t make it over to the ancient art side (we’ve seen it before), we could have totally spent a few more hours looking around the museum. Instead, we were both getting a little thirsty and decided to hit up one of the nearby food trucks for a snack.

Because I knew le kid still had energy to burn, we walked over to the La Brea Tar Pits, a museum that houses prehistoric fossils found in tar deposits in Los Angeles. Although we didn’t go into the museum, we sat outside and le kid quickly made a friend, and they played while I swapped parenting tips with his mom.

All in all it was a WONDERFUL way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  We not only had a great time, but our entire excursion was FREE (my kinda day!).

Do you have a favorite museum in your city? Share!

Trippin’ Soundtrack: What’s On Your iPod When You Travel?

What do you listen to when you travel?

I love music.

I can trace nearly every significant moment in my life to a particular song or an album. And for as long as I can remember, music has been inextricably connected to my life.

When I was growing up I’d listen to Jodeci and write fan letters about how fine I thought DeVante was (and I’d pine over some boy I had a crush on), and as I got older and more aware, I turned to hip hop because I felt it best expressed how I felt. Back in ’94 (I’m dating myself), when I was a freshman in high school I listened to Nas’ “Illmatic” for a year straight and scribbled into notebooks, lockers, and on the palms of my hands. It is because of that album that I’m a writer today. Seriously.

When I travel….it’s no different.

Sometimes I search for songs to fit my mood. And others, I might hear something while I’m on the road that becomes the theme of my trip. Gearing up to go to London, I was introduced to a UK artist named Shakka. After hearing his song on a mix, I googled him and found out he put out his own mixtape. Maybe it was the fact I was getting ready to go to London and he was British, or perhaps it’s just cuz I fell in love with his voice (it’s pretty dope), but I listened to that album insistently before, during, and now, after my trip.

For whatever reason, while I was in London I really just wanted to hear something soulful. I couldn’t listen to any ignorant rap (don’t get me wrong, I love it at times), and I didn’t want to hear any jazz. While I was there I stayed listening to Shakka, Jill Scott, Ms. Badu, the Roots, the Foreign Exchange, and a mixtape (download it, it’s hot) by my brotha in travel, Mike Bigz. Each of these put me in the mood to explore, reflect, and just experience the moment.

What do you listen to when you’re on the road? 

Best of the Best: What Places Make Your List?

Michaela, of the travel blog Awe Inclusive, tagged me to fill out the list for my “Best Of” of travel. So without further adieu, let’s get started. 

Best Domestic Travel Destination

Brooklyn Bridge

Yes, I took this picture. #Brooklyn!

New York City: I’ve had the pleasure to travel around the U.S. a great deal, but there’s no city I love more than New York. Although I consider NYC sort of my second home (I lived there for a few years), every time I travel to the Big Apple I can barely contain myself. It truly is the city that doesn’t sleep and anything you want to do, you can totally do it. From the cultural activities, to the shopping, the Broadway shows to the clubs, New York is my favorite city in the states.  (Runner up: New Orleans)

Best Travel Experience

Hanging out and meeting people in London: I loved, loved, LOVED my trip to London. Not only because I was in a whole new country and continent, but also because I met so many amazing people. Traveling is not only about what you see, but also who you meet and the memories you create. And my newfound London massive is just amazing.

Best International Destination

St. Pancras Station

St. Pancras Station, London. I took this the day before I left for Paris.

London: Did you have any doubts? Sure Paris was nice, I mean it’s Paris after all, but I just felt at home in London. I don’t have many international spots to compare it to just yet, but of the few places I’ve been so far, London tops my list. Perhaps it’s because I was just excited to be there, but I had an AMAZING time. I saw all the touristy things and even got off the beaten path to see a bit of the “real” London (yes, even the hood).

Worst Travel Experience

This is tough. I don’t really have a “worst.” When I was eight we went to Disneyworld in Florida and it rained most of the trip, but we still had a great time. My brother and I splashed around in our rain ponchos and even brought them home to wear when it rained. Fun.

Overall I’ve been blessed to always have fun on a trip even if things didn’t quite turn out as planned, they’ve all worked out. *knocks on wood*

Most Embarrassing Travel Moment

Throwing up on the plane: On the way to London I had a layover in Boston. While in the airport I got a sandwich and about a half hour before the flight to Heathrow, I started to feel sick. I took some deep breaths, pushed the urge to vomit away, and boarded the plane. I thought I was good until I ate the meal they served. All of it. Clearly, I wasn’t thinking.

About an hour later I rushed to the bathroom and threw up ALLLL over everything. Totally missed the toilet. It was bad (real bad). I stayed in there cleaning it up and apparently, no one noticed what a mess I had just caused, but I knew. After throwing up, I still felt nauseous and asked the flight attendant for a barf bag…a big one. Sure enough, an hour later I’m hurling into the bag until nothing else remained. I’ve never thrown up on a plane before and hope to never again. My only saving grace? Most people were asleep while I was heaving into the bag.

Best Local Destination

Horseback riding in Santa Barbara

I'm on a horse!

Santa Barbara: Ok, so Santa Barbara isn’t THAT local, it’s about two hours from L.A., but that counts, right? Last year for my birthday I took a day trip to Santa Barbara to hang out and go horseback riding. Although I had never been on a horse before (I wanted to do something new for my bday), I had an AMAZING time. We rode up a mountain and when we got to the top, we had a beautiful view of the ocean. I was mesmerized. It was so peaceful and I literally felt like I was on top of the world.

Best Travel Lesson

New Orleans

Self-portrait in NOLA

You Are Enough: Like a lot of people, I used to operate under the assumption that you needed someone else to travel with you in order to have a good time. My ideas on this shifted a bit when I went to New Orleans last July. Even though I met up with some friends, they left a day earlier than I did, so on the day I was alone, I decided to explore. I didn’t want to stay in my hotel room simply because I was rolling solo, so I got out and saw the city.

In London and Paris this served me well. I traveled alone, saw most of the city alone and still managed to have a GREAT time. My takeaway was that I was enough.

Although traveling with people is fun, I had a wonderful time exploring on my own time and doing what I wanted to do. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule or what they wanted to see; I just went.

What about you? What are your travel Best Ofs?

**ps: Like what you read here? Feel free to donate to the Trippin’ Travel Fund :)

San Antonio Winery, Downtown LA’s Best Kept Secret

San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles

When you think of California wineries, what comes to mind? Napa Valley? Santa Barbara? Temecula? Downtown L.A.?

*record scratch*

What…Downtown L.A.?

Although most people love California wines, when they think of bastions of wine-making here in the state, Downtown L.A. probably doesn’t make the list. But we do indeed have our very own winery right in the middle of the city (and just a few steps away from the projects!).

Friday, I got a call from a friend who invited me to lunch at the San Antonio Winery. We had gone once before (my first time), and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Like many people, before my last visit I didn’t know L.A. had a winery either!

San Antonio Winery

San Antonio Winery has been in the city for 90 years, back when Downtown L.A. was full of vineyards (who knew?). The winery is family-owned and has been serving up their own vino to thousands who visit each year. The winery boasts three separate locations: the historic Downtown L.A. location, which is a designated historical landmark, an Ontario branch, and another store in Paso Robles.

I haven’t been to the other locations yet, but the Downtown L.A. winery has a store, which has a huge selections of wines from around the world as well as every sort of wine-related accessory you can think of, and a restaurant that serves up tasty Italian, American, and brunch options. This time around I had a BBQ burger (very tasty!) and indulged in a red velvet cupcake (I’m a sucker for sweets), both of which left me completely satisfied (and stuffed!).

San Antonio Winery

After my friends and I finished lunch, we walked over to the tasting room where you can sample three wines for free (!!) as well as stock up on some of your favorites. In the tasting room (which was pretty busy…it was also busy the last time I visited), the sommelier, Robert, poured our samples according to our tastes (I like sweet wines). My friend and I loved Stella Rosa’s Orange Moscato, which tasted like a mimosa (no OJ or champagne needed!), and I bought a bottle to take home. Although you can taste three wines for free, or choose to taste four premium wines for $10, Robert hooked us up with extra samples. And when I told him it was my friend’s birthday, he poured her a sample (I don’t remember what number we were on lol) of one of their best ice wines from Vermont (VERY sweet & delicious!).

San Antonio Winery

Although we just popped in for a quick lunch, San Antonio Winery is easily a place you can spend a few hours exploring. Though it is not expansive in size, you can tour the winery (also free) and learn more about its history and wine labels, and of course…you can eat lunch (or brunch, or dinner).

Even though this was my second trip, I’ll definitely be back to the winery. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic date, or just hanging with your friends. I’ve already told my mother about it and suggest she and her girlfriends head to the winery instead of their local after-work happy hour spot.

What’s your favorite local winery or wine bar? Let’s make a list so when we travel, we have options! 

Lunchtime Trippin’: Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach

Have you ever needed to just get a away for an hour or two?

Yesterday, I rose very early (I couldn’t sleep) and immediately got to work. I wrote articles for my main gig and I also crafted pieces for my other projects. Around noon, I engaged in a little Facebook distraction and found myself smack dab in the middle of a heated debate. Now…I love to debate, but this was one that I had to walk away from because I felt myself getting angry. As I readied my next (snarky) reply, I looked out the window and saw that it was an amazingly beautiful day. With most of my work behind me for the day, I decided to head out on a mini-trip (and find something to eat).

Full disclosure: I’m blessed. I live about 10 minutes from the pier and can easily access the beach, which always calms me down. But instead of heading to Redondo Beach, I decided to drive a little further down PCH to Hermosa.

Hermosa Beach is a small coastal town in L.A.’s “South Bay.” It’s main attraction is the Strand, a boardwalk filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and lounges that leads up to the pier. It’s also known for its beach volleyball tournaments and being apart of the International Surf Festival.

Luck for me, Hermosa is just a short ride from my place and I was there within 15 minutes. As I strolled around trying to figure out what to have for lunch, I noticed many colorful clothing stores, bike rental places and bars (and they were all busy!). Like many beach boardwalks, there were people riding their bikes and rollerblading, and because many are still out for the holidays, there were also several people playing beach volleyball.

After walking down the Strand and sitting on the pier for a while, I was completely relaxed. The sun was shining brilliantly, and the sky was the most amazing shade of blue. How could I NOT be relaxed? I listened to the waves for a while, and decided to head back to the Strand to find lunch.

Hermosa Beach has a plethora of food options. Not only were there tons of American and Mexican food joints, but there was also a French cafe, an Irish Pub, and a Brazilian BBQ restaurant. So no matter what you’re craving, they’ve got it covered. I decided to stroll into a pizza joint called Zeppy’s (I’d never been there before), and order up the lunch special: two slices, a salad, and a soda.

Zeppy’s Pizza was so delish! Apparently they only serve deep-dish Chicago style pizzas (and by the slice!), so I ordered the tomato and basil and a slice of pepperoni. Both were tasty, and for $6 they were also pretty cheap (I was full…for hours). I sat outside on the patio to eat my lunch and enjoyed a little people watching.

After lunch, I headed home….completely relaxed and ready to jump back into work. My mini-break was just the thing I needed to calm my mind, let go of a little bit of stress, and enjoy the sunshine.

Sometimes we think that we cannot, under any circumstaces, get away. But whether you live close to the beach like me, or can escape to your local park…taking a mini-break can do wonders to help you recharge.

Have you ever taken a midday break? Where do you go when you start to feel stressed out? 

I was on the radio!

Missing Persons

Ok, so this isn’t exactly travel related (I have a post coming up…so stick around), but it is an issue that affects people around the world.

This morning I appeared as a guest on the Santita Jackson Show on WVON out of Chicago. This was my third time being on the show, but this is the first time I had the good sense to record it.

Today, I was asked to talk about a new show called, “Find Our Missing” on TVOne which highlights stories of missing African Americans that usually ignored by the mainstream media.

Although it isn’t a travel story per se, there are millions of missing people reported around the world each year, and human trafficking is a huge issue that tourists, especially women traveling alone, need to be aware of.

So, the next time you see a missing person poster in your town, don’t just keep on walking. Stop and give it a look, you might just help find someone.

3 Tips To Make Travel Affordable (and you can totally do them!)

Affordable TravelDo you know someone who has seen the world (a few times!) and you wonder how the heck they can afford to travel so much? I know I do.

I belong to this amazing travel group, and after noticing that it seemed like just about everyone had been to just about everywhere (and were still going), I just had to ask:

HOW CAN YOU AFFORD IT?!

Previously, when I thought of traveling, the first thing that came to mind was money. Plane tickets can be expensive and hotels are costly, so I didn’t see how people of “normal” means (with no rich uncles or sugar mamas) could afford to pick up and go so often. But after I inquired about how they do it, I got so many great tips, tricks, and travel hack ideas that I could barely contain myself.

While Trippin on the Weekend is about finding things to do in your own city, let’s face it, we all need a change of scenery sometime. I love to see other states and countries like the next person, and it takes a little more planning (and more money) than quick weekend trips.

And although I’m a champion of the staycation, I’m also here to tell you that you CAN afford to travel the world. Yes, I mean it!

Sharing information is one of the best ways to not only solidify the ideas in your own life, but also help others. So here are some of the tips I picked up from some of my more well-traveled peers on how to afford to see the world.

Cut Costs: I confess, I spend money without thinking. Dinners out, new clothes, movie tickets, premium cable. It all adds up. One of the best ways to save money for travel is by reviewing your spending habits and cutting things that aren’t necessary. This year I think I might FINALLY ditch my cable company (and for me, this is scary lol..I watch a lot of TV *hangs head*). The bill just keeps going higher and higher, while finding content online has become easier. I’ve had my eye on a Roku box for a while now and am 75% sure I’m going to buy one and put the extra money toward my travel fund. Other ways to cut costs? Review everything: Credit cards, insurance, phone service, and call the companies to negotiate lower rates. If they want to keep you as a customer, most times they will work with you.

Make Saving Automatic: After you’ve cut your costs, you should automatically funnel that extra money into your savings account (and if you don’t have an account, you should DEFINITELY open one). Making your savings automatic will increase the likelihood that you’ll actually save money because you won’t even have to think about it. And here’s a tip. Do not have your savings account attached directly to your primary checking account (i.e. at the same bank). I have a separate savings account with a different bank for traveling, which means I’m less likely to dip into it to cover everyday purchases.

Make More Money: Let’s face it, you can’t cut your way to more money. At some point, you’ll have to get out and increase your income. And while I’d like to pretend that I live frugally…I don’t. So my only other option is to generate more cash and put it toward traveling. Recently I’ve become (mildly) obsessed with Ramit Sethi’s site I Will Teach You How To Be Rich. In it he has all sorts of tips on how to negotiate a higher salary, or, if you’re self-employed like me, how to earn more income on the side. From side hustles to second jobs…if you’re not good at cutting things from your budget, earning more money is your best bet to reaching your travel goals.

No matter where you want to go, I hope you know you CAN afford to get there. No place should be off limits because of your financial status, but just know you might have to cut back a little more and work a little harder, but you can (and will) get there.

Are you saving for a trip this year? Do you have any additional tips to add to the list? Please, share! 

*ps: Like what you read here? Feel free to donate to the Trippin’ Travel Fund 🙂