Welcome! This journey to creating my very own travel blog was not easy In fact, this was a topic of discussion that my friends would constantly tell me to do after every trip and I found every excuse in the book why I should not do one. Many of my friends and those that would talk to be about traveling would tell me I should create a travel blog to document my trips, which would in turn help them with their own trip planning and helpful tips. I kept dragging my feet for YEARS and saying no because I truly felt like everyone already had a travel blog or their own travel Instragram pages and whatnot. But then, one day I told myself…why not showcase MY travel journey? Everyone travels different and you just truly never know who you may inspire or assist with their own travel plans, dreams, or goals. I sit back and watch so many of my friends go after their passions and when people ask me what I’m passionate about, my three major things are: traveling, sneakers, and animals. SOOOO, It’s time for me to go after my passion too! Here it is…Kicking It Around the World!
“Kicking It Around the World” is my journey on all sorts of adventures around the world, WHICH will also document my huge love for sneakers captured along as part of my trips. Since I started traveling heavy back in 2012, the only thing I would use to track my trips were that I would make travel books or just albums on Facebook. This blog will help me unload pictures and my experiences from my trips and better document them. My blog are views from my own personal experience.
As a frequent traveler, time is of the essence for me. I HATE sitting in the airport for hours at a time waiting for a flight. I tend to not be that traveler that abides to the airports’ recommendations of arriving two/three hours before flights, whether it’s holiday season or not. A reason why we are informed to get to the airport on time is due to security checkpoint lines taking a long time. Well, part of the reason that I don’t stress over getting to the airport on time is because I breeze thru security in minutes. With these three essential travel programs, this will save you time, stress, and sanity.
Clear is fairly new to the airport family. I feel like I seen it pop up within the last two years as they slowly been rolled out to most major airports. A friend gave me her referral code during the Holidays 2018 and CLEAR changed my life!!! So what is CLEAR? CLEAR is an expedited security program that lets you cut the line. There is a separate lane entering the security checkpoint area that directs you to a CLEAR ambassador who then scans your biometrics (fingerprints or retina scan) and then you scan your boarding pass. BAM! You’re at the front of the line. Now if you have TSA Pre-Check, you cut EVERYONE. If you don’t have TSA Pre-Check, you cut the general security line (which is still awesome because we know how crowded and slow that line can be).
CLEAR costs $179 a year but some credit cards reimburse you for signing up for CLEAR and some airlines may offer it at a discount of $119. However, if you want a two month trial, here is my personal referral link for you to try it.
Pros of CLEAR:
I can breeze thru security in a matter of minutes
I don’t have to dig for my drivers license as it scans my biometrics (which you set up during registration for CLEAR)
It works in conjunction with all other airport security programs
They give you a warm “Welcome back” greeting every time. If you’re lucky, they will pass out mints or other little goodies too
They are also at some major sports arenas so if you go for a sporting game or concert, you can use CLEAR to skip the long lines and get to the fun faster
Hertz has announced their collaboration with CLEAR so renting a car can be done in a breeze since again…you don’t need to worry about drivers licenses. You can be in and out of rental facilities in minutes.
You can sign up anytime. Unlike other airport security programs where you can to go in for an appointment, no appointment is needed for CLEAR
Cons of CLEAR:
They are only at MAJOR airports. So if you fly in/out of regional or tiny airports, unfortunately you have to deal with just TSA Pre-Check
The price tag can take some by surprise, especially if you aren’t a frequent travel to take advantage of it.
TSA Pre-check is one of the popular and well known airport security programs. As you seen going thru security lines, TSA Pre-check allows you to keep on your shoes, not have to take out laptops, or take off belts/jackets. It saves so much time because you literally just place your items on the belt and walk thru the scanner.
How it works is really simple. You enroll online (link is here). Once you get your confirmation that your application has been received, you make an appointment for your background check. Your background check consists of a few questions and fingerprinting and then you will leave with your “Known Traveler Number”. That Known Traveler Number is what you use when booking your future flights to have TSA Pre-check added to your boarding pass. The cost for TSA Pre-check is $85 for five years but some loyalty programs offer reimbursements. Here is the link to see if you could qualify for that.
Pros of TSA Pre-Check:
You don’t have to take off your shoes, jacket, or belt
You don’t have to take your laptops out of your carry on bag
There is a separate line from general security, which tends to be shorter
Its available in over 200 airports
Cons of TSA Pre-Check:
With more travelers getting introduced to TSA Pre-check, the lines can be almost as long as the general security line
It’s not available in smaller airports. However, some smaller/regional airports may give you a “expedited security” card that you won’t have to take off belts, shoes, and jackets but you will have to take out your laptop
Global Entry is what will save you a tremendous amount of time when returning back into the United States from an international trip. However, I have experienced global entry in a few non-US airports as well. Using Global Entry shortens your time going thru customs. When you get off the plane, you walk towards the Global Entry line to the kiosks to scan your finger prints and boarding pass. Once you do that, you will answer a few questions about your trip (like if you are bringing any fruit/veggies into the US, have you touched livestock, etc). After you’re finished, you will get a paper print out to take to the ICE officers for processing. IT’S AMAZING!
Global Entry costs $100 for five years but guess what?! IT INCLUDES TSA PRE-CHECK!! So for $15 more for 5 years, you get two for one. Therefore, global entry is similar to the process that I discussed for signing up for TSA Pre-check. However, they will ask a bit more questions about international travel.
Pros of Global Entry:
It saves SO much time after a long international flight. I think I spent no more than 10 mins getting thru global entry
It includes TSA Pre-check so its a two for one deal essentially
You’ll get a plastic card that you can keep on you to reference your Known Traveler Number at anytime (therefore, come camera ready at your enrollment appointment. My picture is hideous)
Cons of Global Entry:
Setting up an enrollment appointment to obtain Global Entry (and TSA Pre-Check for that matter) can take months. When I signed up, I think the next available appointment was 5 weeks out.
Your enrollment appointments have to be done at an airport (or in DC I did mine at the DC Enrollment Center in the Ronald Reagan building)
I personally have never used mobile passport since I have global entry but I have heard from a number of people that have used it and even downloaded it while standing in the US customs line returning from an international trip. As you can see in the picture, its an app that you download to your phone. You set up your passport, answer a few question, and submit to CBP. From there, you get a receipt. So pretty much, its like global entry on your phone. The only con to Mobile Passport is that it doesn’t allow you to cut the line but it still saves time once you get to the front of the line. A pro of Mobile Passport is that it’s FREE. For more information on mobile passport, visit the US Customs and Border Protection site here.
Elite Status with Airlines
There are a few ways that you could fall into the category of elite status with airlines. Elite status can let you cut security lines as well (but remember if you don’t have TSA Pre-check, you have to abide to airline security rules). Also, when booking airline tickets, you can purchase priority access at rates based at the time of booking.
If you rack up enough points with an airline(s), you could qualify for elite status with that respective airline.
If you are a cardholder of particular airlines, you could qualify for elite status.
If you fly first class, you could qualify for elite status.
Sooooo, I hope you see why all three (CLEAR, Pre Check, and Global Entry) are essentially beneficially to your travels and why I cap for ALL three programs. Elite Status is a nice perk if you fly first class or chose to fly first class. If you have additional questions about any of these programs, comment below!
Oh the million dollar question…what do I think of Spirit Airlines? I get questions about my thoughts on Spirit Airlines and whether one should take it so I figured why not share my personal experience on it so here you go!
A little background information on Spirit…Spirit Airlines is a a la carte, low cost carrier that flies throughout the US, Central America, and Caribbean.
What do you mean by a la carte? Well the reason why 95% of the time Spirit flights are DRASTICALLY cheaper than other airlines, it’s because you’re pretty much just paying for the fare. That’s it! Everything else you typically expect on a flight is what you pay for. So heads up….don’t expect airplane cookies and pretzels and non-alcoholic drinks for FREE. If you want them, you will have to purchase them. Credit cards only. Click here for the link to the description and prices of food and drink on board.
Are Spirit flights comfortable?
Ok so the first thing you will notice when you get on a Spirit flight is how small the seats are. The way they design their planes have the seats pretty tight BUT the aisle is wider than other carriers and the airplane restroom are way more spacious that other carriers than I fly with. I’m bite size…so the small seats don’t bother me per say. However, if you are tall, you will HATE it. Also, the seats have very little cushion so don’t expect a nice comfy seat. If you are tall or prefer more seat cushion, pay more for the big seat, which are the first few rows of the plane.
Would you recommend them for long flights?
Personally, I would not recommend Spirit for long flights. I only fly Spirit from BWI to ATL and back. That’s it! Since its an a la carte airline, I prefer the small things like snacks, comfy seats, etc that other carriers provide. However, Spirit prices are enticing so do what’s best for you. A small tip that will help you save more money that Spirit already does is that if you buy the flight at the airport, you save on the online booking fee cost. My last flight to ATL for the 4th of July is a witness to that. I saved $40 just by booking at the airport because you skip the online booking fee. *Also* I never flow them international. I have a few friends that have and had horror stories so I wouldn’t do it but again…it’s all a gamble. The price is tempting but really build that into your vacation window.
How does the bag policy work?
With Spirit being an a la carte airline, that includes how they handle bag fees. When booking, Spirits will ask if you want to purchase bags for your flight. Heads up!! This is the cheapest opportunity for you to do so. Once you book the flight, you miss out on that cheaper price. So if you know you aren’t about that backpack/small tote travel life, then definitely purchase bags. It is cheaper to pay for a checked bag than a carry on bag…odd right? Also, yes most airlines allow you to bring a carry on bag for Spirit but for Spirit that is not the case. You get one personal item and one bag that is to meet their requirements. Don’t try to finesse the system because if you’re bag is larger than what you didn’t pay for, they will charge you. I seen them do this before. The picture to the left is my go to travel bag with Spirit and its the free option. So ultimately, just make sure that you’re personal item does not have wheels, a handle (like a rolling suitcase), and its not massive and you should be good to go.
Words of Caution
So Spirit is known for flight delays and cancellations. Its facts…most people that have flown with Spirit can attest to that. I am a true witness to that as well. So when it comes to taking Spirit on a trip somewhere, pad your trip for room in case this happens to you.If you’re flying Spirit to a wedding on a Saturday afternoon and your ETA is to land at 10am for a 1pm wedding, that’s too risky. I will say there have been times I flown Spirit and my flight was on time and we even landed early so late/cancelled flights isn’t always the case. I also never experienced a cancelled flight so I can’t relate on that horror. When checking a bag at the airport, get to the airport early. They aren’t like Delta or Southwest and have a lot of staff helping to load the bags.
For me, Spirit is NOTBAD. Spirit has saved me on last minute flights and saving money on trips. However, since I only fly Spirit home to Atlanta, I’m never mad when things don’t go as smooth. The key about Spirit is understanding ALL of their policies from printing your boarding pass to policies on seating and luggage, to snacks on the plane, and to any other additional/unexpected charges. Feel free to message me for any additional questions or advice!! Safe travels if you decide to book with Spirit!
I can’t even count on the amount of times I would get that question. However, I am happy to share! I want everyone to experience traveling around the world and knowing that it won’t break the bank either! I enjoy being a budget traveler. Honestly, I do anything I can in life to save money. Therefore, I do whatever I can to cut costs on all my trips (but still have a really enjoyable vacation too). Here are some of my personal travel tips when it comes to saving money on vacation:
Let travel search engines do the work for you! Most times, I never have a set destination where I want to go. I always tell people, I travel anywhere that is cheap based off flight deals. Years ago, there was a time where airlines kept having flight glitches (not sure if you all remember the MAJOR flight glitch to Dubai on Christmas Day for $198 but yea…moments like that REALLY had me traveling all over the world). I am part of two group chat that just drop flight deals all day, I follow @secretflying on twitter which shares flight deal as they come, I signed up for daily emails with AirFareWatchDog and I’m part of a number of travel groups on Facebook that share flight deals.
Google Flights is CLUTCH! Google Flights lets you search by departing and arriving airport and the calendar allows you to see the price of flights for the entire month(s). Its so helpful when you have a flexible schedule to see if its better to fly the day before or after based on price. Also, it shows all airlines and their prices with the exception of Southwest. You have to go to Southwest’s site directly. A lot of people ask me what site I use to book trips and Google Flights is ALWAYS my go-to site.
Book now, plan later! Most times, where there is a REALLY cheap flight deal you have to book quickly. You get 24 hours to cancel a flight so you have at least a day to decide if that trip is indeed something you can take or you will need to cancel. It’s best to have quick booking travel buddies to decide on a date and book too if you don’t want to go on a solo trip.
Budget monthly. For larger and more expensive trips, it helps if your trip is months out in which you can book something each month. For example, if its January and you have a trip in June, you can book the flight in January, book the hotel in February, book the car rental in March, book excursions in April, and leave May to cover any outstanding items needed for your trip. By the time June rolls around, your entire trip is paid for and all you need is spending money.
Utilize hotel, flight, and car rental points! That helps to save money on trips. It’s even better when you can share hotel points with your travel crew to help lower the cost of the trip.
If you have any questions on how to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to traveling, shoot on over to my contact page and send me a message. I would be happy to hear from you!
For my 30th birthday, I decided to take my birthday trip to the beautiful country of Belize! Prior to going on the trip, I felt like I was the LAST person on Earth to visit Belize. Everyone seemed to have already been! However, this greatly helped with planning since many had things to recommend, see, eat, and do. We chose to visit Caye Caulker, which is one of the Caye’s right off the cost of Belize City, Belize.
Day 1: Valentines Day!! So really it was a two in one type of trip…Valentines Day AND my pre-birthday weekend. Since Brandion lives in Dallas and I’m in Washington, DC, we had to fly separately and meet each other in Belize. I landed first and waiting for me at the airport was a taxi service who drove me from the airport to the Belize Water Taxi. They store your luggage if you get there early and want to walk around and explore the area. There are two ways to get to Caye Caulker (or San Pedro if you chose to venture there). You can take the water taxi (my choice) or you can fly on one of the tiny planes via Tropic Air or Maya Island Air. Flying was only a 30 min flight from Belize City to Caye Caulker and roundtrip it would have been around $150. However, the water taxi was about an hour or so ride and it was $28 round trip.
When we got to Caye Caulker, the owner of the unit we rented was there waiting for us with a golf cart to transport us to the room. In Caye Caulker, there are no cars (although I did see a few construction trucks but I mean I guess) so the only mode of transportation is via golf cart, bicycling, or walking. Our room was beautiful!! We stayed at Villa La Vida Perezosa. The rooms were clean, spacious, and spacious. There is a rooftop to catch the beautiful sunset at night AND a private pool. I highly recommend this for large groups going to Belize so you could rent out the entire building.
For dinner, we ate at a random hut that had lobster meals for $15. What was surprising was that Feb 14 was the LAST day of Lobster season! So anyone caught catching lobster could get fined. Therefore, it was a mad dash for everyone visiting to eat lobster so we definitely did that.
Day 2: We found a nice spot for breakfast called Brisas Del Mar, which had breakfast meals no more than $6 USD. Once we ate there, we ventured down to The Split, which is a part of Caye Caulker that splits the Caye in two. Oh and when I say “ventured”, it was no more than a 10 min walk. Caye Caulker is SMALL. You can walk the entire Caye by foot if you want. The Split is fun. Great for pictures, souvenir shopping, restaurants, music, massages, and more. This is pretty much where the tourists hang out at. We went to a restaurant that sold “Lizard Juice”, which is the alcoholic drink they are known for. It was delicious! We rode jet skis and just RELAXED. I emphasize relaxed because Belize was the first vacation I took where I truly relaxed. I didn’t have an itinerary of where to go and at what time…we winged everything!
Day 3: There was a big beach party being planned at Koko King, which is a private island about 10 mins via ferry from Caye Caulker. We decided to check Koko King out during the day and it was dope! They had a DJ playing, there was a restaurant with a bar that offered cheap drinks that we just bought a pitcher to indulge on. We sat under a cabana for hours and just relaxed and drank and relaxed and drank. It was amazing. That night, we went back to the island for the big island party and it was amazing to have fun without no entry fees to get in, no expensive prices to sit at a section (we snagged a cabana for FREE), cheap cheap drinks, and just partying with the locals AND visitors.
Day 4: I was dying to rent a golf cart and we found a place that was renting them for $20 an hour so we were able to truly drive around the entire Caye and explore. I highly recommend this!! So much fun! I don’t remember the company we rented from but they were all around the same price through the island. The rest of the day was spent lounging at the pool, on the dock drinking lizard juice, buying souvenirs, and just hanging with locals and tourists.
Overall, Belize was absolutely amazing! It was so relaxing being able to just finally go on a vacation and enjoy each others company, drink, eat, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. I can’t wait to visit Belize again!
Dates: Thursday, February 14 to Monday, February 18 (5 days, 4 nights)
Rental: Villa La Vida Perezosa
Airline: Southwest (using points) and American Airlines for the return
Currency: They take USD. Also, for $1 USD is 2 BZE (so ball out!)
Shoes worn: Highlight Pink Hi Vans and Flower Low Vans
Transportation: Taxi from airport to water taxi- $25 USD per couple. Golf Cart Rental- $20 for 1 hour. Belize Water Taxi- $28 roundtrip (no need to pre book online)
Meals: Most meals were around $10 at the most unless you went to a fancier restaurant and meals were still under $20 (in which I’m included the price of an alcoholic drink). Take advantage of happy hour deals as most restaurants have buy 1 get 1 free on certain alcoholic drinks and their drinks are already like $5 USD.
Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination
So about two or three years ago, my travel buddy Rosalyn and myself set out to see all 50 states. I look back and I truly don’t know when we decided to go on this journey but I’m thankful we did. While she finished her 50 state journey last December, I still have nine more states to go…whoo hoo! Many tell me one of two things: 1. They plan to start the same journey as me or 2. They don’t care to see a number of states. I totally get it! Years ago, I never would have thought to travel to the midwest or some of these less visited states. I mean, I never had a reason to do so! But once you start the journey, you find a new found appreciation of small towns, less populated states, and just seeing how vastly different one country can be. West coast to east coast…northern USA to southern USA…you’ll learn and see different cultures, way of living, accents, houses, architecture, landmarks, nature, food, and more!
I will say the easiest part of completing this mission is to truly have a travel partner(s) who is going on it as well. That will help when its time to tackle states like N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, etc. Plus, some states I HIGHLY recommend to not visit solo just for safety purposes. Not only some parts are culturally awakening but you don’t want to be left stranded in a rural part of the US if your car breaks down or you lose signal due to the lack of cell towers in the area.
While this was my first post to open up my travel diary to you on my 50 state journey, I will post my recap, pictures, tips, and more on all the states that I have captured thus far during this journey. There are a few states that I’ve been to prior to starting this journey that I may not have pictures for (but hey…they count for me!) I personally don’t count states that I just drove thru so all of my recaps will show my experiences whether its food, random activities, historical landmarks, and more. Please consider visiting all 50 states!
For Memorial Day weekend 2019, I took a more non-traditional trip to visit two more states on my #50StateJourney: Minnesota and Wisconsin! A lot of my friends joked as to why I would want to spend my long weekend in these two states but I don’t regret it one bit, I had a blast!! I think Minnesota was one of my favorite states thus far on this journey.
Most of my Memorial Day weekend was spent in the beautiful state of Minnesota by the way of the beautiful city of Minneapolis aka Twin Cities. The first thing I gathered about Minneapolis was how NEW and clean it is! Every building looked like it was recently built. The air was cool and crisp (It was like 60 degrees most days….brr) with lakes (I mean it is the land of 10,000 lakes) and greenery everywhere!
Day 1: We went to the Twin Cities Outlets in Eagen, MN. It was a beautiful outlet mall that I did some awesome Memorial Day Weekend shopping of some great deals. I snagged two pairs of Nike’s at the Nike outlet for a great price (whoo hoo!).
We stayed at the Home2Suites by Hilton which is across from the outlet mall. Very beautiful and modern hotel with free parking, wifi, continental breakfast, and more.
That night, we did some real low-key moves. Dinner was at Outback and while I typically like to try local spots, Outback hit the SPOT! Lol Afterwards, we went to Ansari’s to smoke hookah. Hookah isn’t really big in Minnesota so hookah spots are far and few. Therefore, the prices were a bit pricey but still a great time!
Day 2: We drove to Hudson, Wisconsin and spent the morning and afternoon at Willow River State Park. It was absolutely beautiful and peaceful. There were dogs EVERYWHERE (which pretty much was my touch of heaven), lots of friendly visitors, and breathtaking views of the water and greenery. If you ever decide to visit Willow River State Park, in order to get to the water, you have to park at a lot one min from the main entrance. It gets full quick so you’ll have to hope to catch someone leaving to snag their parking. Also, there is a MASSIVE incline to get to and from the water so on your way back to the car, be prepare for a tough hike. Thankfully, my Nike Free 5.0’s kept my feet nice and comfy.
After leaving Willow River State Park, we drove into Hudson a little more to get cheese curds from Bass Lake Cheese Factory. The cheese curds were delicious!! We received a bunch of odd stares while eating there…I guess everyone wondered how we stumbled upon their little town.
Once we returned back to Minneapolis, we continue on doing some site seeing. We went to the Stone Arch Bridge, Prince’s birth house (which is also seen in the movie Purple Rain!), the Minnesota Sculpture Park, First Avenue (where Prince used to always perform at), and a few random murals around town. All the pictures of these sites are in the slideshow below. For dinner, we ate at Genghis Grill. Super delicious and soooo filling! Kicks of the day were tan leather High Top Vans.
This was my favorite day of the trip….SHOPPING!!! We went to Mall of America…thee Malls of Malls in North America. It was a rainy and cold day so this was a perfect shopping day for sure. Since my boyfriend is military, we were able to get a free ticket to FlyOver America, this 4D ride that takes you on an adventure across the United States. I received a discounted military ticket for $14.95 (reg. price is $19.95). Overall, Mall of America was overwhelming (but not in a bad way)…literally every store you can think of was in there. It was amazing seeing how they had an aquarium, an amusement park, tons of restaurants, 2507528 stores, and more under one roof. Parking was a breeze and free. They name the levels of the parking garage by states and ironically we parked at on the Georgia level…hehe. Kicks wore during the mall were Air Jordan Retro 12’s “The Masters”.
After a day of shopping, we drove to Paisley Park in which we were immediately greeted by a security guard at the gate who said you can’t even park on the grounds without purchasing tickets. Also, you have to get tickets in advance as they don’t sell them at the door (and tickets are a whopping price of $50…yea um nawl. So we just took pictures outside and kept it moving. After that, like my normal self of finding the most random things, we stumbled upon the World’s Largest Mustache. It was a giant red mustache posted in front of a random business in and random town…but hey! It was cool, lol.
For dinner, we closed out our amazingly random trip at Cajun Boiling, in which they had a Memorial Day weekend special of crab legs and boiled shrimp for $21.99. Our service was absolutely amazing and the hushpuppies that came with our meal as an appetizer were delicious! So I highly recommend them, especially if you look seafood boil bags. After we ate, we ventured to Maxwell’s Cafe and Grill in which we made SOOOO many friends there who were also outside smoking hookah. The question that we got all weekend was “What brought you to Minnesota” and every time they are amazed by my 50 state journey. Speaking to Nakia and Bre had us chatting for like 2 hours like old friends! Then group of ladies came in that nobody knew and joined the convo…we legit were like one big happy family. It was the best time and so refreshing!!
Overall, our trip was amazing! Trip detail summary is below:
Hotel: We spent 4 days, three nights (a Saturday to Tuesday) in which our hotel was free (booked off Hilton Honors Points)
Car: Our car rental was only $115 thru Enterprise
Attractions: Willow River State Park entry fee was $13 (since we had Cali tags. MN or WI tags is $10)
Activities:Hookah will run you $30 PERIODT. We went to two hookah spots and they were both the same price