Travel Chops Blog
A weekly blog post about travel and healthy foods.
We are co-authors of a wonderful book called "She's Ready". It's a book full of inspiring travel stories and a wanderlust guide for women travelers. Our chapter, "Take Flight: Jet Setting with a 9-5", will inspire you to get moving and start your own personal journey, even within the confines the 40 hour work week. The book is spearheaded by Rashell Evans, Founder of Statement Junky, a non-profit devoted to providing passports to young girls ages 13-18.
We were blessed to have our travel stories included in the book, and will sell a few dozen copies via our Take A Leap Travel Box website for $20, including shipping. Anyone local to Columbia, SC will have access to it for $15. The book will be available on the website for pre-sale in December with a 15% off discount through December 31, 2018, and will officially be released January 8, 2019. There will be an official book signing in NYC on January 12, 2019, and as soon as we get the details, we'll forward to everyone. God-willing, we'll be there, and excited for all the women involved.
Follow the publisher on IG @StatementJunky
Follow us on IG @takealeaptravel
Follow the hashtag on IG #StatementJunky #ShesReadyBook
Rhonda and Sharee
Can you believe that we haven't posted all Summer? Like not at all. And we did so much traveling and ate so much good food. So the best way to do this is a short recap of our travels and in later posts, we'll go deeper.
Cruise to Mexico- in late June we traveled with family members to celebrate our cousins 40th Birthdays this year. We traveled to both Cozumel and Progreso (Yucatan). The former we made our own adventure by walking around the city and found a secluded part of the beach; the latter, we went on an organized excursion to learn about the Mayan people and viewed one of the ruins.
Movie Premier in NYC- in mid-July we traveled with family members for a movie premier of "Own Your Stupidity", a movie we executive produced with the author. We brought a friend and her daughter who had never traveled by plane or been to New York. Our adventure took us from Downtown Brooklyn to 9/11 Memorial to Uptown Harlem.
Take A Leap Travel/Curlfest- in late July we traveled back to New York as the first trip of our Take A Leap Travel Experiences. We stayed in Brooklyn in the Williamsburg neighborhood in a hotel we booked through booking.com, and frequented to the Clinton Hill neighborhood to eat. We ate at both SOCO (Soul Food/Cajun)and Los Pollitos III (Mexican) on Myrtle Avenue. Excellent food and vibes. We walked quite a bit, even the 2 miles to the Brooklyn Museum and the 3 miles to Prospect Park to attend Curlfest where we came home with a load of natural hair products. Another highlight was meeting a few Clemson Alums in the city and enjoying a night of live R&B music at The Groove.
The Summer has been a mix of work and play. And we're closing our Summer travels to Savannah on Labor Day. We have no plans, and that is exciting to us because we'll basically let the day unfold.
Have you been to Savannah recently? What are some must do's in Savannah?
Rhonda had a work conference in San Diego, California and Sharee decided to tag along. It was Rhonda's second time, and Sharee's third time in the San Diego area. We spent the first day walking by foot to a nearby shopping court, and enjoying the cool breeze weather.
It was on the second day that Sharee wandered off to Old Town to enjoy the sights. Old Town is a neighborhood in San Diego known as the first settlement of Europeans in what is present-day California. Excitement was in the air as the towns people were in the midst of setting up for Cinco de Mayo. With over 30 restaurants, 100 plus speciality shops, and more than a dozen art galleries and historic buildings, it was a great solo experience for Sharee. Later that evening, joined by one of Rhonda's conference attendees, we both spent the evening back at Old Town to enjoy an authentic Spanish meal.
On the last full day Sharee utilized a hop-on-hop off pass and got a chance to see the expansive city of San Diego that she had never experience on her previous travel there. Starting early in the morning, she was able to experience eleven unique stops. The best view was when she went over the Coronado Bridge. After sharing a few pics with her sister, Rhonda also purchased a hop-on-hop off pass to enjoy the sights for the remainder of the day. Their final stop was in the downtown district of Little Italy. An ArtWalk was taking place and they were in the midst of thousands of people as they took in the art and smells of delicious foods. It was there that we tasted our first beignets. Yum!!
It was an excellent trip, and one for the books. Of course we never go anyplace without some sense of adventure, so we took a few hours on our departure day to hang out in Los Angeles with some friends, only to return to the San Diego airport to have our flight cancelled. We didn't get home until the following evening, but we have so much love for California, we didn't mind the extra overnight stay.
Have you visited California? If so, what has been your experience. And if not, where would you like to visit first?
We would like to welcome newbie traveler Recya Robertson to reflect upon her recent 2 day mini-break to Myrtle Beach.
On April 20th I decided to take a mini break from everybody. I went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I wanted to go to Savannah, but didn’t know the area well enough to go by myself. This was a must need break for me because I’m either always working or sitting at home doing nothing. I made reservation at Days Inn a couple days before I left. When I got there, the hotel wasn’t anything like I expected it to be. I was like "nope"..this is not the area/hotel that I booked a couple days ago. When I went to confront the receptionist about it, she told me that the pictures on the internet were taken years ago. Many of the hotels around here get most of their business by submitting "old pictures. I’m looking at her like "what the world... that’s false advertisement" etc. I wanted to cancel my reservations all together. Then I started thinking if I did, where was the next place I can go or call to stay for the weekend. What I end up doing was staying there because there was nothing I could do about it at that moment.
The good thing about my break was me enjoying the sun, quietness, the birds chirping, beach, and my daughter. The bad thing about this trip was not being able to sleep. Meaning, I got bitten by a couple of times by bed bugs while I was there. I end up throwing all of my clothes and shoes in the trash. I lost my belongings, but gain freedom. I’m now able to do a lot of traveling by myself. I was very afraid to do that before.
The things that I got out of it was take somebody with me the next time I go because being by myself is not always good. The lesson I learned was never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever book a hotel in Myrtle Beach on the south side. Will I ever do it again? The answer will be YES, but on the north side.
Thanks Rhonda Washington for that extra push. You’re a good person inside and out.
We want to thank Recya for sharing her story. It takes courage to travel solo even when you have a family.
We often take surveys that provides us points and/or money that we use towards travel. The three we use most often are erewards.com, pointsforsurveys.com, and Toluna.com E-rewards has several travel related options that can utilize the points earned. We often alternate between IHG Rewards (Holiday Inn, etc) and JetBlue reward points. Points For Surveys is completely tied into JetBlue, and allows you to ramp up your reward points with the airline carrier. Toluna Surveys provides cash payouts of upward of $30 or more after you meet a high threshold level of survey points achieved.
Each survey tend to take from as little as 5 minutes to more than half an hour to complete. The longer the tests, the more points it tends to be worth. A downsize to these tests is that by asking of demographic questions, you may not always qualify. In most cases, they'll give you some of the points. For example, Points For Surveys will give you 10 points for not qualifying for a survey, but after 5 non-qualifiers in 24 hours, you will earn no points. With Toluna, it can take upward of 3 months or more of taking tests daily to earn the $30 threshold for cash payout.
Do you take surveys, and utilize the points for travel, money, or other? If so, which ones?
Situated a few miles from Rome, Italy in Frascati, we were privy to a wine tasting at Merumalia Wine Estate. The host was very courteous and detailed in his explanations of how the company, a mere 6 years old, started making wine and olive oil. A former astronaut, he and his family have taken ownership of the estate. The most impressive thing about the production of the wine is that it's all certified organic. While their array of half a dozen white wines, one red wine, and olive oils are giving themselves a name in Italy, they are just making their mark in the US, with plans to expand in the coming months.
Two of our most often asked questions are how to join a group so to not go alone abroad and how to plan for family travel. To answer those questions we recently revealed a new website takealeaptravel.triplaunch.co. Currently hosting 3 trips in 2018-2019 (NYC in July; Cape Town, South Africa in December; and Toronto, Canada in April 2019).
The group size is small with less than 15 persons ,so you can get to know your fellow travelers. These travelers will be come from different backgrounds and regions as transportation will be on your own to the destination site. However, we will offer concierge services to assist you with your travel needs to the destination. The tour fee covers accommodations, activities & tours, most meals, and ground transportation.
Another service we will provide is if you want us to host your personalized group trips, such as, family reunions, meet-ups, girls trip, retreats, conventions, bachelor parties, and more on our site for a small fee. Due note this does not include cruises at this time. Please contact us personally to discuss at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhonda W. Sharee W.
A few weeks back we mentioned several options for having a meatless lunch. After perusing through Trader Joe's frozen section, we found another lunch meal similar to the Trader Joe's vegetable burrito. It's chopped full of black bean and corn, and even some organic tomatoes and organic tofu intermixed. It's only $2.29, and it comes with a pack of two servings, at 130 calories each, and a sodium level of 230 mg. It heats in less than 4 minutes depending on your microwave, and it's recommended to reduce the power to 50%. The sauce is very tasty to me with a smoky flavor. However, on many vegan blogs, people have downgraded the meal because of the sauce. Try it for yourself to be sure.
A week after Thanksgiving I found myself in the Charlotte, NC area at a local Harris Teeter grocery store. After perusing in their pizza area and not find the dairy-free mozzarella I had a taste for, I found my self in the meat-less area in the produce section. I was immediately fixated by the small Turkey looking meatless option by a well-known company called ToFurkey. It was a picture of small butterball size turkey stuffed with wild-rice and topped with gravy. The only extra I had to consider was the baste which I made with olive oil and fresh seasonings (thyme, garlic salt, black and red pepper) and minus the suggested soy-sauce. I ended up buying two, with one to consume within the next day and the other during Christmas at the beach. It took a little more than two hours to cook, and after one taste, I was in love. It was so good, and if I didn't know it was meatless, I would of thought I was eating real meat. I looked for something similar at my local Trader Joe's and Publix, and could find nothing else like it. The box says it was a holiday special so I'm not even sure it'll be around in a few weeks. I may have to head back up that way to stock up on this delicious find.
What meatless meal have you tried during this Holiday Season?
Rhonda & Sharee Washington