Travel - Other than a few visits to our parents who reside less than an hour away, and extended family that live two hours away, we went to The Great Smoky Mountains: Pigeon Forge, TN & Gatlinburg, TN. You can watch our YouTube videos here and here. We also took a one day trip to Eudora Farms (drive thru zoo) in Salley, SC. We were awestruck as zebras, camels, and other animals trotted by our car and up to our window. What an experience during the pandemic.
What road trips have you taken since the start of the pandemic? How about destinations for which you had to get on an airplane? We would love to read your experience.
Food - Pre-pandemic we have always cooked home. This came in handy during the pandemic. However, with infrequent visits to the grocery store, we have been utilizing our pantry more. We also have family who have shared their Senior Citizen pantry food items with us due to upcoming expiration dates. We donated any pantry food we were not able to use to our local Goodwill, who in return, distributed the food items to local emergency food pantries.
Our staple foods have been sphaghetti and brown rice/with vegetables. However, we cooked for the first time: coconut curry; corn muffin; black bean burgers; oven-baked apples and peaches, and a sweet potatoe pie. YUM!!
What have you cooked for the first time during the pandemic? We would love to read your experience of trying something new.
Finance - Our experience of telling money where to go have helped us tremendously during the pandemic. We intensively automate our money to go to investing (REITS, stocks, mutual funds, index funds); short term savings account; long term or emergency fund; and extra payment on the mortgage each time we receive a paycheck. Please note this is not investing advice, but our personal finance experience.
What we want? Freedom
Sharee in London (March 2019)
We've been playing around with some recipes this Summer. We'll share a few in the next several posts. Travel related because we've visited our Aunt in our mom's hometown of Alvin, SC on several occassions over the past 6 months. Our Aunt has provided us bags of sweet potatoes, and we decided to make a tasty dessert out of it.
Here is our version of a vegetarian sweet potato pie recipe:
1/8 stick of butter
2 tablespoons of cinamon
1 tablespoon of nutmeg
1 tea spoon of lemon extract
1 tea spoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of coconut cream
2/3 cups of brown (cane) sugar
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 regular size (9 inch) pie crust
Boil sweet potatoes on medium-high for 45 minutes. Poke holes in sweet potaotes periodically.
Mix all remaining ingredients (except pie crust) in a bowl. Cover and place in refrigerator.
Remove sweet potatoes from the stove. Peel skin off sweet potatoes. Blend sweet potatoes with mixer.
Add other ingredients, and mix together for 2-3 minutes.
Pre-heat oven 400.
Place mixture in pie crust, and smooth out any bumps.
Place in oven for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 for 25 minutes.
Let pie cool for 15 minutes.
What's your favorite pie?
Rhonda and Sharee
Whew....It's been awhile since you've heard from us. In fact, Summer is almost over!! We will change that in the coming weeks, as we're slowly heading back out on the road, safely and responsibly.
As you consider your next journey on the road and you're seeking to find "good eats", why not eat from a food truck. They have so many types of cusines from soul food to vegan to hibachi.
Check out our latest Wanderlust Video that highlights the hottest food trucks in various regions of the US, including in the Mid-Atlantic, down South, the Midwest, and out West.
Do you have a favorite food truck in your region of the country? If so, please share!!
Rhonda and Sharee
It's been more than two months since we've posted here on Travel Chops. In addition to staying at home and social distancing, we've been reacessing travel opportunities and finding ways to responsibly educate travelers within today's "new normal". Furthermore, we needed to identify a way to turn a profit this year for Take A Leap Travel, LLC, when we were in the midst of our highest profitable quarter.
One decision was to overhaul our travel coaching services, and revise it to a membership subscription-based service utilizing Patreon. As you view the website, see if you can answer this question- Which Traveler Are You?*
The first type of person dreams of traveling with his or her family, or maybe taking a solo adventure within the next year. This traveler is excited to work with us to learn how to plan a trip in the forseeable future. This traveler acts on their dream.
The second type is one who dreams of overcoming their fear of traveling alone or is in the process of planning, then thinks, it’s totally impossible. This traveler will tell us all the reasons why there’s no way it could happen for them. This traveler decide it’s not worth trying.
The third type of traveler has stopped dreaming. This traveler has given up on the idea of traveling far from home, and don't want to consider getting on a domestic or international flight. This traveler disbelieves in the dream and theirself so much that he/she gave up and just stopped dreaming.
Here are our tips for each traveler
If you’re the first person, consider our Tier 3, 4, or 5 patreon membership. There are things getting in your way and we can help you. Let’s get started now.
If you’re the second type of traveler, give the idea that the dream can actually happen AS MUCH air time as you think about it not happening. Give your brain the opportunity to realize there’s possibility there instead of focusing only on impossibility. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let your brain complain about how it’ll never happen. Stop when the timer goes off. Now set the timer again for 10 minutes and let your brain think about how it actually could happen. Just doing this every day could drastically change the trajectory of your entire journey. Consider Tier 1 or 2 patreon membership.
If you’re the third traveler, acknowledge that you’ve stopped dreaming. Repeat after me: “I used to have a dream and then I let it go. But I still have a brain. I can dream again.”. Now go up to tip number two and give that a try.
No matter where you are in your journey, there’s a future you on the other side of your journey rooting for you right now. All you have to do is take one small step at a time to head towards being comfortable with traveling.
We believe in you and will believe in you until you can believe in yourself!!
Check out our patreon website to see what we have to offer, and consider joining our community for as little as $3 a month. We create actionable steps to enhance your self-care with travel!!
*Adapted from Paige Bowman, a weight loss coach, blogpost "Do You Dream".
Rhonda W. and Sharee W.
Jamal Davis took a trip of a lifetime to Asia in Summer 2019 before heading to Harvard Business School. Let's learn a little more about Jamal and his travel journey.
Where was your most recent travel abroad destination? Why?
My most recent travel abroad destination was a trip that included Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong. I decided to go to these countries because I had not yet been to Continental Asia, and I wanted to experience a new culture. I had previously been to Europe, Africa, North America, and South America, so Asia was the natural next choice.
What was your experience of traveling growing up?
Outside of visits to Myrtle Beach, Washington, DC and a few states for travel soccer, it wasn’t something that I remember much of (though my mom did take my brother and I on a few more trips).
I was fortunate enough to go on an international trip to France and London my freshman year of High School. I remember seeing the Palace of Versailles – built by Louis XIV – and being blown away by its size and beauty. I didn’t travel again until the summer after my sophomore year of college when I went to South Africa. It was my interactions with the locals on this trip that made me fall in love with traveling.
Are you the first in your family to travel abroad?
Outside of my cousins and uncles who served in the military. Yes, I am.
What were your expectations prior to traveling abroad?
The most recent trip, I didn’t have too many expectations. I’ve been to over 15 countries, and you learn that people are people at the end of the day. There are people that will go out their way to help you and there are people who will use you to make a quick, easy dollar if you’re not paying attention. Sometimes, they’re the same people, so be careful!
Did you have any challenges abroad and how did you handle them?
No challenges, but in the day leading up to this trip, I became a little worried about language barriers. A friend recommended that I download the Google Translate app. Problem solved, talking to locals and cab drivers in Japanese was ridiculously simple using this app.
Do you prefer traveling solo or in a group? Why?
I have traveled solo, and it used to be my preferred method. Traveling solo allows you to go through the process of self-discovery and take risks in ways that you might not otherwise take. However, at this point, I’ve mostly “discovered” myself, and I now believe that it’s not where you go, it’s who you go with.
What would you say to people who are on the fence of traveling abroad?
No one has ever gone on a trip abroad and returned to say, “I regret going there.” You may decide that once is enough, but I doubt you’ll have any regrets!
Where are your next destinations domestically and/or abroad?
I am not sure. We are in the midst of coronavirus, which has forced me to cancel several of my travel plans. I was planning to go to Puerto Rico in March and West Africa (e.g. Ghana/Nigeria) in May, but those trips have both been postponed for now.
As Co-Owners of Take A Leap Travel, LLC, Sharee and I take your health seriously. As you know the travel industry is being extremely affected along with other small business owners. Here are 5 simple ways to help: 1. Stay local and support local businesses in your community. 2. Purchase flights for future travel by March 31, 2020. Airlines are offering discounts and waiving change fees, if plans change. 3. Ask around to see who in your circle has their own business (waving hand here). Support and/or refer their services/products. 4. Try something new. Many small businesses have unique services/products We’re offering virtual travel coaching - Go to our website at takealeaeaptravel.com to learn more. Prices are reasonable and can fit into your budget. 5. Keep Take A Leap Travel, LLC in mind for your future international, domestic, and staycation needs.
Traveling means the world to us. Not only personal, but also as a business with Take A Leap Travel, LLC. We love discovering new cultures and eating local dishes at the destinations we've visited. It's been a blessing to see the world with our own eyes. And we have made it our business to help others see it too.
So when everything turned upside down with the health scare of the coronavirus, we were saddened to see the stock market tumment, students return home early from their study abroad experiences, and families missing out on their year-long awaited journey. Money, Annual Leave/PTO, the built of excitement.. gone.
We plan to continue our travels and encourage others to do the same. However, we know that everyone's circumstances are different. It's helpful to be armed with the facts.
Check out this article by our friend Dr. Nadeen White of The Sophisticated Life. She's a doctor and avid traveler, as well.
Are you having to change your travel plans because of the spread of the coronavirus?
Rhonda and Sharee
This was our 6th year volunteering at Sundance Film Festival. Under a new policy, we can not blog about our volunteer experience or even share info about movies or panels we attended. So, we thought we'll share some of the pictures captured during our extended stay. We have expanded from a 4 day experience to 6 days. This gave us the opportunity to spread our volunteering hours over multiple days so that we have time to not only see movies, but also network, whether they be festival attendees, actors, filmmakers, or volunteers.
Images below- Actor Will Catlett; Sharee checking out the ski lift; Sharee and Rhonda in Atticus Coffee shop on Main Street; Actress Erika Alexander (Both Rhonda and Sharee took seperate pictures with her a few hours apart); Filmmaker and 2020 Oscar Award Winner, Matthew Cherry; Actress Daheli Hall; Actor Alano Miller; Actress Xosha Roquemore; and downtown Main Street in Park City, UT.
And finally, a special shout-out to our driver and fellow volunteer Cami, and new volunteer Cici. Cami drove us from Salt Lake City to Park City and back everyday. Our schedules just lined up like clockwork. And it made the trip much more affordable than paying for a ride-share service. Cici, a gifted photographer, took several of the pics below, and currently on an IG challenge to post one image a day for a year. Keep it up Cici!
Do you have a favorite celebrity you've taken a picture with?
Rhonda and Sharee
Introducing our brand new YouTube Channel for Take A Leap Travel, LLC, featuring Wanderlust Wednesdays, our weekly travel tips video series. We started it off at the beginning of the year, and we are 7 videos in. Each video is less than 4 min., and offer quick insights on travel tips that we frequently use. Check back weekly, and be sure to hit SUBSCRIBE so that you know when new videos are posted!!
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. Day #1 and Day #2 were shared in previous posts.
Our final day in Miami was spent revisiting two areas in Miami that we briefly saw during Day #2, and wanted to explore more. Utilizing our hop-on hop-off bus pass, we spent our morning in Wynwood and afternoon in Little Havana.
Wynwood is known for it's colorful murals. We toured the artwork museums for half an hour, and then went to the Wynwood Diner for lunch. We had the best pasta and avocado salad, and didn't leave a thing on the plate. Simply delish. As we waited for the bus to take us to Little Havana, we met a wonderful family from Cape Town, South Africa. We shared with them about our upcoming travels there, and exchanged contact info so that we can meet up in a few months.
Once we got to Little Havana, it was as if we left United States. The Latin music, the smell of Cuban cigars, and the people of Cuba was alive. We even took a little time out to view a domino game in Domino Park, and listened to Latin music in a cafe. Since most Cuban dishes have pork in them, we settled on Cuban sherbet for dessert.
After one last visit to South Beach, we headed to the airport for our evening flight. Visiting Miami was a great way to start the New Year, and it didn't disappoint. We took in the fresh air of beach, improved our Spanish, tasted spicy foods, and enjoyed the rhythmic sights and sounds of Cuba and Latin America influences. If you're looking to "leave the USA, but not actually leave", we definitely recommend visiting Miami as a great short weekend or holiday get-a-way.
Where are your favorite short get-a-way destinations?
Rhonda and Sharee
Rhonda & Sharee Washington