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  I recently started a new YouTube series “Living your #Extraordinary Purpose” . Each week I share a 3-4 minute message to inspire you to walk boldly in your extraordinary purpose in business and life. Based on my own struggles and victories I’ve discovered that being extraordinary isn’t easy. Here are […]

The Beauty in Extraordinary Living: Six Habits of Extraordinary Women


Everyday I get a chance to work and interact with clients who tell me that social media is overwhelming and they are coming to me looking for some relief. Everyday there is a new social media network added to the marketplace and many already can't find the time to upload an Instagram image on a regular basis or consistently share their latest blog post on Facebook. With YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and many new other platforms giving us the ability to engage with our community [...]

Which social media platform should you choose?






Travel is ingrained in my DNA. My mother was a woman who traveled across the world with ease. Whether she was exploring France on a European vacation, hanging with the locals in Guadalajara, Mexico, cruising through the Caribbean or sneaking off to Vegas. I still have the postcard she sent me from her Hawaiian vacation when I was a kid. Even as a divorced, single mother she still set aside time and money to prioritize travel.  Sometimes she had kids in tow or her girlfriends, but she was also not afraid to travel alone. My mothers ability to globetrott with confidence is one of the many reasons she was and will always be my shero.
Me and Mom - San Antonio, TX in the early 1980's



I believe every woman should experience taking a solo trip. You don’t necessarily need to embark upon an “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure or go “Wild” like Cheryl Strayed but taking the opportunity to explore and discover on your own is a brave and bold move that could lead to an empowering experience of a lifetime.
Traveling alone can be a scary thought for many, here are four travel tips that will ease any fears and help make your solo travel experience safe, enjoyable and fulfilling.
1.   Identify Your Ideal Destination
Decide if you want to lay around a beach, relax at a spa, shop all day, or tap into some history and culture.  If you’ve been stressed lately a relaxing beach vacation may be what you need to unwind.  Foreign destinations are always ideal if you are looking to explore history and discover a new culture. Don’t mull over the destination too long, just choose!



2.   Do Your Research
Pre plan an itinerary. There are plenty of online resources available to help you figure out where to dine, shop, entertain and sight-see. You can even walk into a nearby travel agency to chat with the experts about your upcoming plans. Professional travel agents will not make you feel obligated to book your trip with them but if you do decide to book with them they can help to customize a trip specific to your travel goals.

2006 - My first solo trip to San Francisco, California



3.   Be Friendly
Even though you are on the trip to enjoy being with yourself, making connections while there can make the trip more interesting.  Don’t be afraid to casually chat with the hotel bartender or smile at other tourists you see while out and about. Maybe you can link up with another group of people to go to dinner or a local tour so you don’t feel so alone, if that is an issue for you. I find that when people are on vacation they are much more open to meeting new people and making fast friends.


4.   Be Safe
Always be aware of your surroundings.  Make sure you pick a travel destination that is known to be safe and recommended for tourist travel. Even when you are at a safe resort, precautions should still be taken:
  • When you check in at the hotel, ask for two  keys and let them know someone else will be joining you later.
  • Avoid venturing  outside of your hotel late at night, if you do, have a cab called ahead of time so you aren’t spotted walking down the streets alone.
  • Don’t leave the hotel with your passport, keep it locked in the hotel room safe.





Travel Smart: Solo Travel Tips for Women


When it comes to establishing your social media profiles the first item of business should be making sure that your online branding is consistent. Are your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter usernames the same? Is your bio consistent on all platforms? Do you use different profile pictures on all your platforms? Check out this video as I discuss the importance of brand consistency and share tips to get you on the right track. [...]

Dear Entrepreneur: Is Your Online Branding Consistent?


Social Media can be a fun place to share with friends and family all the personal moments in our life. However as a business owner there is social media ettiquette, especially when it comes to Instagram and you want to make sure you are aware of how it could possible affect your brand. Your ‪Instagram should be used to primarily promote your business, product or service not to share 3 selfies a day and food pics! You just may get unfollowed! If you can't resist oversharing then you [...]

No More Selfies: Social Media Etiquette for Entrepreneurs



Recently Grammy Nominated pop star Iggy Azalea made the news for announcing she was quitting social media due to bullying and nasty comments. As we have now entered the Lenten season many people are choosing to give up social media during this time. As a high profile celebrity, entrepreneur or popular blogger is it good for you to take a social media break? I believe you still need to maintain an online presence engaging with your fans, clients and followers but if you feel you are in [...]

Thinking of Quitting Social Media? (Video)



Happy March!


We are having a tough winter here in Chicago with blizzards and sub zero temps just about every week so I am officially on a countdown to Spring (17 days!). Even though I’m not hopeful we will see warm temps and sunshine here in Chicago by next month, I have made sure that I will be having a few days in the sun elsewhere. I’m headed back to my favorite vacation spot, Cabo San Lucas in April for a well deserved vacation and getaway with a few of my girlfriends from Texas. I’ve blogged about Cabo here before and my decision to purchase a timeshare, so I’m excited to go back “home” for a few days.


If you are planning to head to the beach this year, here are some #travelsmart tips to make sure it’s your next beach trip is the best ever:




Beachside Chilling


Relaxing on the beach should be your #1 priority. Many people spend time poolside and maybe get near the beach but fail to actually spend time on the sand. Rent a chair (or even better a cabana) and plan to spend at least a few solid hours along the shore.  There is something about the sound of waves crashing, sun beaming down and feet in the sand that can instantly lift your mood. If your resort has spa services on site, carve out time in your trip for a beachside spa day. It’s always good to get in some “me time” in the midst of all the fun and adventure of your vacation.


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Unplug and Catch Up


Technology can have a way of taking over your life. Some of us can get so caught up in the “online” world that we aren’t present and fully enjoying the REAL life we are in. Beach trips are the perfect opportunity to catch up some reading NOT check email and social media the whole time. Bring along your favorite magazines and newest book to make the best use of your free time. Try to step away from social media and be present in the moment. Snap a few photos and share updates with friends and family on social media at the end of the day.It’s actually nice to spend some time away from the constant barrage of email, notifications and text messages that can generally be a distraction.


Nightlife


Vacationing at a destination with a hip and urban nightlife is a bonus! It’s always good to step away from the resort and hang with the local scene and culture. Before heading to your destination check out Groupon for discounted deals on local events and restaurants. Dine at a nice restaurant, dance like nobody is watching when the DJ plays your song or gather the girls for an “I’m Every Woman” karaoke sing along.  Conversation and laughs over a great meal and a bumping bassline beat always makes for a good time.



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Go on an excursion
There are so many wonderful water sport activities to take advantage of when you are located at a beach resort. From parasailing to snorkeling to sunset cruises, making sure to have some fun and adventure in the midst of relaxing makes for priceless memories. When I vacationed with girlfriends in the Bahamas we went horseback riding along the beach and watched as one of the girls went parasailing. In Jamaica I climbed the Dunn Rivers Falls and hiked the El Yuenque rainforest in Puerto Rico. Whatever you do make it fun and adventurous.



Do you have any upcoming beach vacation plans? Share in the comments!

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4 Tips for a Better Beach Vacation






Happy February! It's Black History Month and the month of LOVE! 

With Valentine’s Day coming up and love in the air, getting away with your partner for the weekend just may be the sweet retreat that you need!

Traveling together is a great way to relax and re-connect with your partner. Leaving the comforts of your home and the grind of your daily routine for just a few days can be a gamechanger in your relationship. Most couples would unanimously agree they are just too busy to make vacation a reality. However it doesn't have to be as complicated as you think!

Running short on ideas to celebrate Valentine's Day with your sweetie? 

Here are three easy to plan couple vacation ideas:


         Staycation


     Be a tourist in your own city. Book a weekend stay at the best hotel in town, order room service, book a spa appointment and dine at a new restaurant. You can even check out a local attraction or special event and no need for a plane ticket or gas money!






           Road Trip
     
     Head down the highway to a nearby bed & breakfast, neighboring major city or vacation resort. Spending 3-5 hours in the car with your partner allows time for you to talk and catch up. Even if it’s just an overnight trip it will be worth it! Remember communication is key, so be sure to turn the phones and radio off and enjoy each other’s company.


          Escorted Tours

     
     Ready to finally take that romantic trip to Italy but no time to plan? Going with a customized travel tour company leaves you more time to enjoy your vacation and eliminates the added stress of planning. It’s as simple as logging on, picking your itinerary and booking it! Hotel, transportation, excursions and meals are covered! All you need to do is just show up and follow your tour guides instructions.




So this Valentine’s Weekend leave the excuses behind and go ahead and make it happen. The kids can be left with a babysitter and that all-consuming job will still be there when you return. Take “Date Night” to the next level and hit the road this year! 

Happy Travels!

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Take Date Night to the Next Level: Valentines Day Couple ...


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Last week I attended the 11th Annual Chicago and Travel Adventure Show, the largest travel show in the Midwest. When I attended the event for the first time in 2014 with friends, I had such a wonderful time that I knew I would make this a “go to” event every year! (Check out last years recap here) My good friend, travel blogger and Paris tour expert Paige of Paris by Paige traveled from Milwaukee to attend the expo and we made it a fun Girls Weekend!




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The view from my apartment before heading out to the expo with Paige. 

This years lineup of speakers included authors and experts Cheryl Strayed and Pauline Frommer, and everyones favorite travel TV host, Samantha Brown returned for another year! We had a chance to check out Samantha Brown and a workshop on Travel Technology featuring Hotel Tonight App in the Savvy Traveler Theater!


Luckily I was taking notes along the way so check out these #travelsmart tips to help you become a more savvy and chic traveler and be inspired to travel more:


John Golicz - CEO, Travel & Adventure Show - Savvy Traveler Tips


When you arrive at a hotel always ASK for an upgrade. The main objective of the hospitality industry is to make you feel welcome. Ask what your upgrade options are and you just may receive.
For the best deal book flights at least 60 days in advance.
Thanks to Uber car services the need for rental cars is no longer needed. Check the Uber site in advance to make sure they service your location.
Now is the perfect time to plan travel to Europe. The Euro is now equal to the dollar and airfare is  down 10%
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John Golicz and Calvin Hohener of Hotel Tonight


Samantha Brown, Travel Channel TV Host - Travel Inspiration
Family vacations gave us our first taste of travel. The family vacation creates strong memories and become building blocks that sustains family in tough times. It allows kids to see their parents act like kids.
Travel inspiration comes from the movies. Just Google “Best Travel Movies for Inspiration” and get inspired to plan your next trip.


Schedule an international day trip “staycation”: Watch a travel inspired movie, visit a museum,  dine or order in your favorite ethnic food, have a glass of Italian wine. Create your own escape!
Use Pinterest to create travel boards that will inspire you.
While the internet has allowed us to take travel planning in our own hands, travel agents are still perfect for helping to plan trips specific to your lifestyle and needs. They can be an advocate for you in your complex travel plans.
Top apps help to make travel easier:


- PocketEarth
- Flight Aware
- Google Translate
- Airfare Watchdog
- Travel Channel
- Twitter
Hope you enjoyed these #travelsmart tips and are busy making your 2015 travel plans!


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Savvy Traveler Insider Secrets – #ChicagoTravelShow Recap


Happy New Year! Hope everyone is off to a fantastic and powerful 2015!


This time of year is always special for me! I celebrated my 34th birthday on New Years Eve (yes I am a #NYE Baby) at home with friends, food and lots of fun. 2014 was a phenomenal year for me: I lost 60 lbs, quit my corporate job to freelance, consult and coach full time , moved to a new apartment and of course traveled:)


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On New Years Day I also celebrate my “Chicago-versary”. Seven years ago on January 1st I took a one way flight from Dallas/Ft Worth to Chicago to begin a new chapter in my life. I left behind friends, family, a beautiful home and opened myself to new opportunities the "big city" had to offer. For all the ups and downs it's still one of the best decisions I've made in my life thus far.




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As I settled into Chicago back in 2008 I had to quickly learn how to adapt, navigate and explore my new city. Luckily I had a coworker and friend to help me but I still had to take it upon myself to explore Chicago on my own.





So if you have a relocation in your near future or just making plans to visit a new city for a weekend getaway, here are a few of my #travelsmart tips for exploring a new city:


Google Before You Go


Trip Advisor, Yelp! and TimeOut are my favorite go to websites for all the goods on  where to dine, shop, entertain and sightsee. They provide rankings, traveler photos and user reviews that give you an idea of what to REALLY expect.
Official city websites also provide event calendars, maps and comprehensive information on local tours.


Getting Around Town


Before you hurry to book a rental car for your trip take time to discover your other transportation options. If you are in a large metropolitan city like Chicago, NYC or D.C. public transportation are sometimes your best bet! Check out fares beforehand and use Google Maps to determine the closest stops to your hotel and planned destinations. If public transportation isnt an option, you still need to understand cab fares and distances between locations so you can estimate your transportation budget. In a spread out city like Houston or Orlando? Hop on Hotwire.com for the best rental car rates and don’t forget the GPS!


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Grab a Deal


Groupons, Living Social Deals and other city vouchers are a must! Before heading to your destination check out these sites for discounted deals at local restaurants. Most deals are between 30%-50% off for popular and newly opened establishments. Pre purchasing vouchers and planning out your meals will also make it easier to stay within your travel budget and plan out a more detailed itinerary. If you are relocating, this is a great way to jump right in and explore restaurants and activities in your new town!


Get Friendly


Making connections while on your trip always makes the trip more interesting! Don’t be afraid to casually chat with the hotel bartender or smile at other tourists you see while out and about. Maybe you can link up with another group of people to go to dinner or a local tour and you may end up with a new friend!


So what cities are on your travel agenda this year? Happy Traveling!


One last thing...:

In the spirit of a new year I am adding a monthly newsletter to the blog. In the newsletter you will find helpful articles, travel tips, social media insights and previous blogs you may have missed. I look forward to bringing you new relevant content to help you travel smart with style

Are you going to join me? Sign up here!

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Know Before You Go: Travel Tips for Exploring a New ...