We had an airline voucher with American Airlines we've been sitting on for 2 years that expired the first week of January 2020. Not to leave "money" on the table, we decided to take advantage of the new direct flight from Columbia, SC to Miami, FL. We included it in our Take A Leap Travel trips, and invited others to join us. We had a blast bringing in the New Year on the Wharf, and exploring Miami and it's rich culture over a period of three days. We'll share each day's experience over the next few weeks.
We had an early morning flight, and used a Lyft to get us to the airport to save on parking. They were offering a special promotion, and we saved 75% off the fare. Great start to our exciting mid-week trip. The flight was barely an hour and half in the air, and we arrived in sunny Miarmi with a beach themed decorative decor at the airport. Everyone wanted to be outside, including the geico we met upon arrival at our hotel. LOL!!
After a brief rest in the hotel room, we got ready for the night's festivities. Nothing elaborate. We like to be comfortable. Rhonda dressed in a bright yellow-checkered dress, and Sharee in basic black and white. We decided to go to the Wharf to bring in the New Year near the water. Free admission before 10pm ($35 after 10PM), and food on our own. There were several food trucks to choose from, and we decided to go with fish and seafood.
We met a few people at our table. Mostly young working professionals from Miami looking for a safe and fun night-life, and not sitting at home. The music was Old-School R&B/Hip-Hop from the 90s. Our soul was happy, and we found ourselves getting "Jiggy with it" and singing along to our 90s icons along the likes of New Edition, Biggie Smalls, Will Smith, and Puff Daddy.
Just before the countdown began we opted for something sweet and split two donuts. One regular glazed, and the other pink cotton candy. During this time, a few boats came alongside the pier, and we all looked to the sky as the countdown began. 10, 9, 8, .....1. The fireworks over the city was spectacular, and the mood got more festive as we blew into our noisemakers and cheered in the early hours of January 1, 2020. We didn't stay long after the fireworks, as we've been up since 4am that morning. We needed to rest up for the next two days so that we could see all Miami had to offer. And it didn't disappoint!! Check back in the coming weeks as we share the next two days of our time in Miami.
How did you spend your New Year's Eve?
Rhonda and Sharee
Over the winter break, we came across two programs that are offering young adults a trip to the African continent at little to no costs. One is specifically for high school students and the other for youths and young adults.
Age 13-30 years old
Travel and Project-based Learning
Travel to a West African Country (Ghana, Senegal, etc)
It appears to be entirely paid for by donors and more than a dozen sponsors including HBO, Essence Magazine, and Blavity
Currently accepting applications
US Citizen w/ one parent of African Diaspora (African-American, African, Caribbean, Caribbean-American, etc)
High School 9th, 10th, 11th grader...minimum age of 15 and must not have graduated before the trip commences
Current trips are to Senegal in the Summer, but may expand to other African countries
Students only pay $500, and fees associated with obtaining a passport, immunizations, and malaria pills (although Senegal is not a malaria zone, it's for precaution)
Funded by The Tunstall Foundation
Application accepted until February 29, 2020
What do you think of what these organizations are doing for youths and young adults of African descent? If you met the criteria, would you participate?
.During this past year I have experienced highs, lows; gains, loss; frustration, pure joy; and everything in between. I learned 5 Lessons in my Year of Bliss and I'll share them one by one over the next few weeks before we enter year 2020. Earlier in the month I discussed Lesson Number 1: Give Yourself Permission to Take A Break, Lesson Number 2: Flexibility, Lesson 3: Give Money A Destination, and Lesson 4: Laugh.
5. Give Generously
Give of your resources and time. Resources can be talent, skills, money, and/or time. As you can see, I did not say money first. I feel more blessed when I use my travel skill-set. Planning people's travel itineraries allows me to utilize my project management skills, and make it possible for them to save money and more time enjoying their trip.
Thank you for reading my series, Year of Bliss, as an entrepreneur. May the New Year bring to you good tidings in 2020 as you pursue your personal and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Rhonda's word for 2020 is Gratitude. Sharee's word is to be Present.
What is your One Word for the New Year?
Follow us on Social Media
FB, IG, & Twitter: @takealeaptravel
During this past year I have experienced highs, lows; gains, loss; frustration, pure joy; and everything in between. I learned 5 Lessons in my Year of Bliss and I'll share them one by one over the next few weeks before we enter year 2020. Earlier in the month I discussed Lesson Number 1: Give Yourself Permission to Take A Break, Lesson Number 2: Flexibility, and Lesson 3: Give Money A Destination.
Watch your favorite comedic movie. Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, and Eddie Murphy are a few of my favorite comedians, and their movies are black cinema classics. Last Holiday, Girl Trip, Think Like A Man, and Boomerang are favorites. Read the funny comics section in the local newspapers that are dropped off at many public businesses. Laugh with friends and family. Remember a joke shared with a love one who is still here physically or may have passed on to be with the Lord. Watch someone laugh and see yourself laughing within seconds. And you don't even know what they are laughing about. Try it!!
What makes you laugh?
During this past year I have experienced highs, lows; gains, loss; frustration, pure joy; and everything in between. I learned 5 Lessons in my Year of Bliss and I'll share them one by one over the next few weeks before we enter year 2020. Earlier in the month I discussed Lesson Number 1: Give Yourself Permission to Take A Break, and last week I shared Lesson Number 2: Flexibility.
3. Give Money A Destination
I found that when I give money a destination, I have money for retirement, savings, and travel every month. Once I pay in full my credit card bill of groceries, gas, and incidentals; health insurance; church offering; and my half of the mortgage, I designate where all the remaining money goes to. I'm happy to share my money destinations.
Retirement: Roth 403b for which I continue to contribute even though I left my previous full-time employer - $250 every 3 months; Regular Roth via a brokerage firm - $100 per month. Biggest Lesson – Have a retirement account outside your employer state or 401(k) retirement account
Savings: I currently have both a $1,000 savings account and a full emergency account before I even started listening to financial experts Dave Ramsey and Chris Hogan. In 2019, I began contributing $84 per week for 3 months that equals $1,008. At the end of each 3 months I use $1,008 to fund my Retirement, Savings, Travel accounts and additional principal of the mortgage . Finally, I have a mutual fund via brokerage firm - $50 per month. Take Away Lesson – If you need to pay for your emergencies with a credit card (i.e.. car transmission) pay for it immediately with your emergency fund and replenish your fund as quickly as you can.
Travel: I have several domestic and international trips in 2020, ending with my much talked about trip to Ghana in December 2020. Why don't you join us!! In addition, I am already planning and saving for my yet-identified 2021 trips.
Do you give money a destination as apart of your personal financial goals?
During this past year I have experienced highs, lows; gains, loss; frustration, pure joy; and everything in between. I learned 5 Lessons in my Year of Bliss and I'll share them one by one over the next few weeks before we enter year 2020. Last week I discussed Lesson Number 1: Give Yourself Permission to Take A Break.
I have pivoted often and lost my focus at times as to what is my goal with my travel consultant business and non-profit organization. What has helped has been to be flexible each day. Each week I do my best to only stay in my home office one or two days per week. The remaining days are spent at networking luncheons, going to co-working space like Converspace, or using the library meeting room. I mix my days up because it keeps my ideas fresh. When I first began this entrepreneurship life I stayed in my home office 3-4 days per week. It wasn't until I started going outside the home office that I met people who could not only be a potential client, but give me a referral. Take A Way Lesson: Clients are not able to find you if you are not flexible with your day and with your business ideas.
How do you go about changing your daily work routine?
During this past year I have experienced highs, lows; gains, loss; frustration, pure joy; and everything in between. I learned 5 Lessons in my Year of Bliss and I'll share them one by one over the next few weeks before we enter year 2020.
#1 Give Yourself Permission to Take A Break
There were many days where I was on the computer researching grants for my non-profit; surfing on the internet for businesses to reach out to; and reading/responding to emails from 7:00am to 11:00pm at night. I was WORKING, WORKING, WORKING! And it seemed I never got anything completed. I later learned to give myself a break.
Art Therapy - Give your brain a break with creativity. Several weeks ago I did this. I went to old travel magazines and cut out pictures of destinations I've traveled to and have not traveled to. I grouped them into beach themes; continent themes (Africa); and taped them to the walls in my bedroom. Now on my bedroom door are the words “Grab Your Passport” and when I enter I see all these fascinating destinations abroad. Grab paper, scissors, and color pencils; jewelry; and create a twinchie (see picture above) with affirmations on them. Two by two squares from the paint store will work. Another suggestion is to sign-up at your library's Art Studio if they have one. This is a free space at your local library where they have some art supplies for you to draw, paint, and just create. Contact your local library to see what supplies you may have to bring.
Visit Family/Friends - Take time to visit people during the day. If you are able to take an extended lunch break eat with a friend; visit a family member who maybe sick; or spend quality time with an older relative/friend who does not receive many visitors.
Read a magazine – Essence Magazine is my go to. It takes me literally the entire month to read the articles. As soon as I finish that month's issue, the next month's issue is in the mailbox.
Binge on Netflix – I did not check my email or social media one entire weekend. I was able to watch 16 episodes of the CW show All American on Netflix.
Take a Nap - I always say I'm going to take a nap, but often do not. Does that happen to you? These naps do not have to be long. Twenty to thirty minutes of rest and stillness. The internet is "Off" and cellphone on "Do Not Disturb" so you will not be tempted to answer “the buzz, buzz” of an incoming text message. Or if you are at work and able to – Close your office door – and take a nap. A former colleague brought her yoga mat to work and slept on it during her lunch break.
Take a mini-vacation – Take Friday off from work. Don't read or answer emails. You don't have to travel 6+ hours away across the country or abroad. You can travel 2-3 hours away to the other side of your state. Depart on Friday and return on Sunday. The different scenery refreshes your mind and creativity as you prepare for Monday morning.
Take a day/half day off from work – What do you do during your day? It is up to you. Try one of the many tips mentioned in this lesson; go to all your doctor appointments; car oil change; or take care of that one item you keep pushing off, such as, going to the post office to submit your passport application or the DMV to obtain your "Real ID". How often should you do this? One recommendation is to take one or two days off per month, especially, when many US residents do no use their Annual /Personal Leave by the end of the year.
All of these suggestions benefit our mental health. So take a break!! The work will be there when you return, and you'll be more refreshed and focused! Have you used any of these suggestions before, or is there one you'll like to try?
Imagine This Scenario:
It's the 3rd day of your 6 day/5 night vacation. You enter your debit card into the ATM and your card is DENIED. Shock and confusion as you know you have $500 in your account for food, excursions, and souvenirs for the entire trip. Or do you?
What many people do not realize is that hotels or cruise lines can withhold $200-$300 on your debit card from a week prior to a week after your trip. Eating ramen noodles for the last few days or missing out on an excursion due to limited funds while on vacation is not fun.
Cons of Debit Cards
- Your hotel reservation can be denied if you do not have enough money in your checking account prior to travel
- You will have $200-$300 less in your account to pay on food, excursions, and souvenirs
- $200-$300 will be on hold days prior to and up to a week after your trip.
Tip: Have additional money in your checking account to pay your bills the week prior, during, and a week after your trip
Pros of Debit Cards
- Peace of mind that the trip is paid in full upon your departure
- No interest rate
Cons of Credit Cards
- Interest rate
- Additional money added to your credit card balance
- Expired or overextended credit card (Bring a back up card.)
Tip: To not pay interest, pay the credit card in full at the end of the month
Pros of Credit Cards
- Very little is withheld (as low as $1)
- The money charged can go towards Airlines mileage or cash back
- You can still pay in cash upon your arrival and nothing is charged to your credit card
Rhonda is team credit card. All the money in her checking account has a designation: Mortgage; Savings; Investing; and Other bills, including paying all her credit cards in full each month. Having $200-$300 less on her vacation by using her debit card is not fun. Sharee concurs!!
Are you Team Credit Card or Team Debit Card? Why?
Follow IG, Facebook, & Twitter @TakeALeapTravel
Rhonda W. & Sharee W.
It's November 1, 2019. Mornings are crisp; skies are blue; leaves have vibrated colors of orange, yellow, and red; and birds chirp in the air. The Holidays are soon to arrive. Time moves on. A year ago, October 31, 2018 I had taken the leap of faith of leaving my full-time employer to pursue both entrepreneurship and the world of non-profit.
The non-profit, Take Flight Project began in November 2018.
The travel consultant business, Take A Leap, LLC came into full fruition in February 2019
My next step is to enter year two and meet – and DEFEAT - these challenges head-on.
Have you ever made a life altering decision such as leaving a job or a relationship? How did your first-year go?
I shared in our Manhattan Tales blog post last week a series of true events that happened enroute to NYC a few weeks ago. After being on the ground a mere 10 hours, it was time to head back home to South Carolina. As expected, the bus was completely full of passengers making the trip down South. Unlike the trip to NYC, we were assigned specific seats. Rhonda and I like to sit behind the driver. However, with the assigned seating, we were more than half-way towards the back of the bus. I thought it would make for an uncomfortable trip, but with it being late at night, everyone pretty much went to sleep. We left on time at 10PM, and our first stop wasn't until about 2AM. The trip was pretty uneventful as we drove into the night, through the DMV area, and into North Carolina, and then South Carolina. After dropping off a great number of passengers, we were then allowed to spread out and change seats at will. It wasn't until we left Florence, SC that another tale begins.
We just turned off of I-95 South onto I-20 West heading to Columbia when a policeman pulled the bus over. I was surprised by the stop in that I didn't think we had been speeding. Up to this point, we were a mere hour from Columbia, and was on track for an on-time arrival of 11:30AM. The police addressed the bus driver and then asked him to open the luggage storage area below the bus. The police and a dog completed a thorough search of all the stored luggage, and even came on board to check our personal possessions and ID. One young man was search outside of the bus for illegal drugs, but was released to return onto the bus. This took all of 30 minutes, yet we were still on track of making it back to Columbia by noon.
We had just reached the Columbia city limits when traffic was stopped at a standstill. There was an accident further up the interstate, and the driver was detoured to an unfamiliar road. Some of the passengers tried to steer the driver to a more direct route to our final drop-off location, but with his limited English, he couldn't understand the directions instructed to him. He pulled the bus over in an empty parking lot, and using his own phone GPS, he found the best possible route to the drop-off spot. We arrived at 12:30PM.
So the lesson learned during our bus trip to NYC and back: pack a lot of patience and best believe, you will not depart or arrive on time. This is no different than what we have experienced with air travel. We have had airport delays, missed connections, and late arrivals more times than we can count.
Have you ever experience significant delays in your travels, whether via plane, bus, train, or automobile?
Rhonda & Sharee Washington