Tuesday, April 4, 2017

DIGIT....


How I pay for my travels seem to be a common topic of discussion among my friends, so I thought I would let you guys in on one of my favorite travel tricks:  DIGIT!
This is language directly from their website:  Digit is a journey aimed at refreshing the interactions between humans and their money.  Bad financial habits create unnecessary hardship that derail us from living our life to the fullest. We believe we can help people avoid some of these hardships by combining recent discoveries in behavioral psychology with technology.

How does it work?  Basically you give Digit permission to make withdrawals from your account and put it into your savings account.  It’s not a set amount of cash, it will be random amounts of cash that they “set aside” for you.  Here are some things you should know:

·    Digit will “analyze your income and spending, and find money it can safely set aside for you”.  I gotta tell you, sometimes the amounts are small but other times the amounts can be larger.  But you will always have control.  You can text them and tell them to Pause Saving, or Speed Up/Slow Down your savings.  It’s completely up to you.  Once they took over $20 out of my account a few days in a row and I was like WHOA…a quick text and that was taken care of.  Here is what my Savings Journal looked like recently:


So some of these amounts are larger than typical, but I have mine set to “save more” because I knew I was planning for something.

·    They will never overdraft your account, they “never transfers more than you can afford”.  They actually have a no-overdraft guarantee.

·        You can access your savings anytime!  A quick text message telling them how much you would like to transfer back to savings and voila, your money is back in your checking account the next business day.

So how do I use digit?  Usually I use it when planning for my longer trips.  I will allow the savings to build up and I don’t touch it – at all – for any reason; not even for a shorter trip (I use my travel account for smaller trips).   Now I’m not talking about saving for the flight.  This is the cash I use for things like excursions, train tickets/flights to other cities/countries during the trip, food or even AirBnb/hotel costs.  For instance, below was my digit balance yesterday:

 

I will transfer $700 back into my checking account next week and start booking excursions for my upcoming trip to Barcelona and Rome.  I will also use this cash for food.  This is a MUCH BETTER option (for me) than using credit cards.

And there you have it.  One EASY way to save some cash for your travels!  Now #GetGoing!

Angie, Founder
2 Girls & A Bikini
 
 

Monday, March 27, 2017

My 2016 Travels

Someone recently asked me for my favorite travel picture of 2016.  So I started strolling through my 2016 folder and realized  I don't have a favorite!  So I mentally took a trip down memory lane:  London, Guadeloupe, Bahamas (2x), South Korea/Vietnam/Cambodia, Playa del Carmen (of course) and Cuba.  And for different reasons, I loved each one of those trips!
In London, my niece get her first passport stamp.  I went to Guadeloupe with a good friend and her family to celebrate a birthday and it was a week full of laughter.  In the Bahamas (the first time) I watched a friend marry the love of her life and (the second time) was a short cruise with a friend who really needed a break.
The trip to South Korea/Vietnam/Cambodia with my brother was a dream come true for me and I cried watching the sun rise at the temples of Angor Wat.   Cuba was a last minute decision and turned into a wonderful surprise.
The best part?  I have NO travel debt - just memories.  Sweet, Sweet MEMORIES.  And that's what it's all about.....

See all of my 2016 Travel Pics on my Facebook Page!


Keep Traveling Friends~
 
Angela
2 Girls a Bikini


 P.S. - Want to know how I manage to travel debt free?  Read the blog I wrote about it:  How I Afford to Travel.



Monday, January 30, 2017

My Thoughts On Cuba!

It’s AMAZING.  That sums up my thoughts.  It might be my new, less than a 5 hour flight, favorite destination.  I need a few more trips to decide.  But here are some things I want you to know:


·        Don’t overthink the Visa.  Select the category and make sure all of your paperwork is in order.  I selected Educational Activities/People-to-People.  I had each day on my itinerary all typed up and my activities planned. While I was there, I met a girl who is a Professor at a major University, so she selected Professional Research.  So be sure and select the category that applies to you and stick to it.  Most importantly - don't LIE.  To review the 12 categories, click here.

·        Currently, American credit and debit cards are not accepted anywhere.  So take MORE cash than you anticipate needing because the small things will add up.  I converted USD to Euro and converted to CUC as needed.  Also, some of the stores accepted Euro – but no one will accept USD.

·        Havana has 4 neighborhoods:  Old Havana, Centro Habana, Vedado and Miramar. 
o   Old Havana, which is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is where the colonial history is located.  LOTS of walking and where I wish I had spent more time.  So much to see.  The architecture is old and beautiful. 
o   Centro Habana is Havana from the early 20th century and where you can find the Museum of the Revolution, which is also the former Presidential Palace.  I did a tour of the Museum, it was interesting, but can be skipped if you are short on time.  The neighborhood is interesting and worth a walk around.  Especially for the photographers.
o   Vedado is where the Malecon (sea front promenade) begins and where the National Hotel is located.  This is also where Revolution Square can be found along with the large iron sculptures of Che and Camilo Cienfuegos mounted on the side of 2 buildings.  There is also the Jose Marti Memorial, where you can take an elevator to the top for a view of the city.  Also be sure and check out Columbus Cemetery where many famous individuals are buried.
o   Miramar is an exclusive residential area and where most foreign embassies are located. 
·        The art scene is bananas.  Art and Galleries everywhere. You can’t see them all.  Don’t try.  Take your time to enjoy the ones you do see and go back to see the others.  But a must is Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) fabricadeartecubano.com.  It’s an old oil factory that has been converted to an arts space.  There are dance lessons, live music, beautiful art, and a DJ. 

·        The “classic car” game is real.  They are everywhere, and they are beautiful.  I paid 25CUC for a one hour ride around the city in a 1957 pink convertible.  But I did a 6 hour tour of the city in a hard top classic car that was air conditioned.  It was more comfortable and I didn’t have to smell diesel for 6 hours.  I booked this tour through Havana Journeys.  They were great.  Very knowledgeable and patient - because I'm sure me and my daughter were asking a LOT of questions.

·        Wifi is scarce.  I didn’t bother buying a wifi card and searching for wifi signals.  I went to a local hotel a couple of nights to check in with friends and family.  I paid 10CUC for an hour and that was enough for me.

·        People, People, People are everywhere.  And they are friendly.  And they want to talk to you.  So if you don’t speak Spanish, be sure and download the Google Translate app that doesn’t require internet.  Everyone I met was familiar with typing in what they wanted to say and waiting on you to type in your response. 

·        You will dance, because music is a big part of the culture.  Calle Obispo is a great place to find bars where you can find good food, great Mojitos – and of course MUSIC.

·        I’m not a foodie – but the lobster I ate was the best lobster I’ve ever had.  Once on the beach and once at a local restaurant that I went to with a friend and the family she was staying with.  And it was very affordable.  I ate lobster twice. 

·        My favorite spot of the trip was Fusterlandia.  I even got an opportunity to meet the artist, Jose Fuster.  This is a MUST DO.
There are lots of blogs and books available for you to read - so take your time and do so.  I took day trips to Vinales and Varadero (beautiful beach).  I booked both tours via Tour Havana With Roly.  I contacted Roly using his Facebook page and he is very responsive.
That’s all I will say about my time in Cuba.  It’s truly a place you have to see to believe.  Meanwhile, my pictures can be found on my Facebook page.  

See you in the skies!

Angela



Friday, November 25, 2016

My "Year of 50!"

Soooooo,

Yesterday was my 49th birthday (YaY Me!).  Now, I have to tell you, I have not been very excited about the idea of turning 50.  But a few months ago I came up with the idea of celebrating my birthday for the entire year leading up to this monumental birthday.  So I put together  a list of places I would love to go and things I would love to see.  I decided to top off the  celebration with an epic trip to Africa with family and friends.
 
I talked to some people about this idea, and as you can imagine, I encountered some serious #SideEye moments.  I heard things like "you're crazy" or "that won't happen".  Last week I talked to a financial advisor about some financial goals and even he told me that I should scale my "Year Of 50!" dreams down a bit. 
 
So I was bummed and they had me reworking my plans.  But Lookie - Lookie at what #PepsiCo told me in a birthday email.  Who knew such inspiration could come via junk mail from my sugary lover?
 
I now have new a sense of determination.  I will LIVE life.  I will make MY travel dreams come true.  I will EXPLORE new destinations.  I will make NEW friends.  I will LEARN new things.  I will have amazing EXPERIENCES.
 
I don't have all the pieces in place, and I don't know if I want them there.  All I know is that today is the first day of my journey. 
 
Join Me!!
 
Angela Myers
Founder
2 Girls & a Bikini
 
 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Whoot-Whoot:  It's Election Day!

 

 

Happy Election Day 2016!!


Today is the day that our country will elect its 45th President.  Along with all 435 voting-member seats in the United States House of Representatives, and 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, twelve state governorships, two territorial governorships, and numerous other state and local elections!  WoW.....

Now, I'm not here to tell you WHO to vote for.  I'm just here as a reminder to VOTE.  And when you are done voting, do what I did and book a flight!  You don't have to go far - or spend lots of cash.  Scanning The Flight Deal this morning, I saw:
  • Philadelphia to Rome for less than $500
  • New York to Chicago for less than $100
  • Los Angeles to Peru for less than $400
  • Seattle to New Orleans for less than $300
And there are plenty more deals out there!

I'm here to encourage you to travel to all the places your heart desires.  Go visit friends/family in other cities/countries.  Go and actually see that landmark that has been your screensaver for way too long.  Go sit on a beach, or in a museum.  Take a double decker bus tour.  Hop on a train, a boat, a scooter.  Take a solo journey.  Or grab a group of friends - and just go!

Yesterday, I lost a friend.  A friend that I met while I was traveling through Thailand.  He lived his life with no regrets and traveled the world with no fear.  Today, I want to be a little more like him.  Today I want all of us to be a little more like him.

Travel Safe My Friends.....

Angie
Founder, 2 Girls & A Bikini

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Loved "Chicken Pizza"!


Everyone knows that I love the Cancun/ Riviera Maya area of Mexico.  I mean really, I LOVE IT.  If anyone comes to me looking for a quick, inexpensive, beautiful beach vacation – they are going to get sent directly to the Cancun airport.  One of my first blogs was actually titled “I’m a Cancun Addict”. 
So it surprised even me when I couldn’t remember if I had ever been to Chichén Itzá!  I mean really, it’s the #1 tour in the area.  Which is why on my most recent trip, I booked a 5am tour via Amigo Tours.  First, let me say that I have not been compensated in any way for this write-up.  I only mentioned the tour group because our guide was absolutely AMAZING.  He knew so much about the Mayan People and the history of the area.  During our LONG bus ride, we learned about the culture, the people, the language ……his lesson even had pictures.  Which go a long way when it’s barely 8am and you are asking yourself “why am I here?”

I went to Chichén Itzá knowing a few things:

·      It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site

·       It’s one of the most popular archaeological sites in Mexico

·       It’s very old.  Like built before Christ old

·      There’s a cenote on the grounds that was once used for human sacrifice (I don’t even know why I knew that).
Now, I have seen the ruins of Tulum many times and so I was expecting a similar experience.  But there were a few things during the tour that amazed me:

·       The largest temple, The Temple of Kukulkan (aka El Castillo) is now one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.  Its 90-feet tall with stairways on each of the four sides.  Each stairway has 91 steps, which total 364.  When you add the platform step that they share at the top, it totals 365; the number of days in a year.  Who did the math?  And why?  And the stones look as if they weigh a ton – each.  How were those stones carried up 91 steps?

·       Our guide stood in the center of the staircase, at the bottom of the largest temple and clapped his hands.  An echo came from the top of the temple that sounded like the chirping of a sacred bird.  But if he moved a few steps to the right or to the left – no chirping.  Back to the center – chirping.  Crazy right?

·       There is a Ball Court where they played with a rubber ball that was very heavy.  During the game, players had to keep the heavy ball in motion, but get this:  the captain of the winning team (the team who got their ball through the stone ring on the opposing players’ part of the courtyard) was sacrificed to the gods!  HuH?  Well as it turns out, his victory made him “a fitting offering”.  #BlankStare

·       Another interesting fact about the Ball Court:  You can stand on one end and whisper softly.  Individuals at the other end WILL HEAR YOU.  I mean clearly hear what you are saying.  The Ball Court is over 500 feet long!  It is believed this was used as some sort of eavesdropping technique. Also, a clap or shout made in the center of the ball court will produce nine separate echoes.  The number nine has some significant meaning in this culture but I wasn’t paying any attention to my guide at that point.  I was still stuck on the snooping abilities.
It became very clear to me very quickly that these were some very smart, very sophisticated people.  They were skilled farmers and created a written language that is believed to be the first written language native to the Americans.  They were also mathematicians and their number system included the concept of zero, which was an idea not known to the Greeks – who were considered “expert mathematicians” at that time.  The Maya were also highly skilled potters, weavers, sculptors and jewelers.  AND they had trade networks!

The tour was a total of 3 hours, not including travel time.  I was back in Playa del Carmen by 3pm and at my Mi Casa Holiday beach party by 4pm.

One last thing:  at the bottom of the northern stairway of El Castillo, there are stone heads of a serpent.  Many people travel to the site during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes to experience how the sun’s light and the edges of the stairs create a shadow which, very briefly, creates the look of a snake moving down the Temple.  Hmmmm,  I checked and the equinoxes occur around March and September 21!  What are your plans?!  #LetsGo

See all of my pictures on my Facebook page!

Happy Traveling!

Angie
Founder, 2 Girls and A Bikini
 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cruisin...


Some people love cruises. Take my brother. He has been on two, 7 Day cruises - THIS YEAR. But he also went with me on my Vietnam/Cambodia trip - so I'll give him a pass.

Me?  I'm not a cruiser.  It just doesn't interest me.  So how did I find myself sitting on the balcony of a cabin ON a cruise ship?  Easy.  My desire to help everyone "get out there and see the world".

Here's where it started........

People are always saying "you don't invite me when you travel", so I invite them they say "that's out of my budget".  Sigh.  So since people tell me that cruising is affordable and that payment plans are available, my desire encouraged me to say "let's take a cruise".  So I chose the dates, and the shortest cruise available.  I sent out some invitations, got some takers and we were all set.

I put down my deposit and created my flight alert.  A few other people put down their deposit and I got excited because I was thinking "YES.  WE ARE TAKING A TRIP!"  Months passed, I sent out encouraging emails (they all ended with YaY), we talked about how much fun we were going to have, I purchased a flight and waited.  And waited…..AND WAITED.  I stopped sending encouraging emails and started sending emails that ended with “are you taking this &*$&# cruise?”
So let's see. I'm now on a 3 Day cruise to the Bahamas (where I have already been this year for a wedding, but I digress) with my “I will travel anywhere” daughter and a friend who has never left the country.  I’m sitting on the balcony adding up my affordable cruise:

Cruise:  $450 (includes transportation to the Bahamas, lodging, around the clock unlimited food - including ice cream, movies, live shows, clubs, casino and other activities)
Flight:  $220
Car Rental:  $90 (this was cheaper than each of us paying for round-trip transportation)
Parking:  $40
Gas: $20
Misc (internet, drinks on cruise, food/drinks on island):  $75

So, my desire to help everyone "get out there and see the world" cost me approximately $900. That’s an average cost of $300/day……hmmmmm.  I’ve planned longer, more exciting (for me) vacations for half the cost; but what hurt me the most was the 2 vacation days I lost. 

When I returned, I spent some time with myself, and we have come to an agreement. People who want to travel, well, will TRAVEL.  I don’t have to invite them, I don’t have to encourage them (YaY), I don’t have to plan specialty trips for them.  They will get out there.  And they will see the world. 

P.S. – my friend did get her FIRST passport stamp.  This is the only picture I saved!


Happy Travels Everyone~

Angie
2 Girls & A Bikini