Saturday, June 24, 2017

My MVP

I have a wall of cork in my closet.  It's my "Memory Board".  It's different from a vision board because it holds things I want to remember, things I want to hold close.  And since I see the Memory Board on a daily basis, things that make me smile.


There are post cards that I mailed to myself from a favorite destination on the board, as well as tickets into shows or attractions.  There are pictures of people and places.  There are train passes and boarding passes.  A mini book my daughter wrote me.  my ticket into Angkor Wat.  Anything that invokes a positive memory can make it up on the board.

Sometimes I take things off the board and spend time with it and the memory.  I laugh.  I cry.  I remember.  I put it back on the board.

But there is one thing on the board that I value most:  My Mom's Passport.  It's my MVP (Most Valuable Possession).  I look at it often and admire her stamps.  It doesn't have very many stamps in it because my Mom passed away before she could make all of her travel dreams come true - and that's what makes it so valuable.  It serves as a constant reminder that NOW is the time.  Time To Go.  Time To Do.  Time To Be.












It reminds me that tomorrow is not promised to anyone.  That I can't wait until (the kids are gone, the condo is paid off, retirement) to go to (Angkor Wat, the Colosseum, Greece).  It reminds me that time is the most precious thing I have. My Mom's Passport is my Passport to live my dreams.



What are you waiting for?  #TravelOften

Angela Myers
Founder
2 Girls & a Bikini

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When FAR AWAY Isn't Really FAR!


Hey Travel Friends!

I recently attended a baby shower that was about an hour drive from my home.  Let me tell you that as I've gotten older, driving has become my LEAST favorite activity.  I would have rather taken an UBER, but that wasn't practical, so I gassed up the convertible, picked up a friend and hit the road.

The drive took us through some ritzy neighborhoods, and while I was enjoying the conversation and looking at massive homes thinking "Who Lives There?", an amazing structure caught our attention. My friend exclaimed:  It's The Bahai Temple!  We were both in awe and immediately agreed that after the baby shower, checking out the Temple was a MUST.

Now, I wasn't very familiar with the Bahá’í Faith; so I have to admit that during the shower I did some reading.  I learned that the temple is one of eight dedicated temples of the Faith and that it is the OLDEST surviving Bahá'í House of Worship in the world (Wikipedia is your friend).  During my reading, I learned that literature of the Faith directs a House of Worship be built in each city and town, and emphasizes that "its doors must be open to all regardless of religion, or any other distinction". 

It goes on to say "that the spirit of the House of Worship must be a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God  without denominational restrictions", and that "holy scriptures of the Bahá'í Faith and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language; while readings and prayers may be set to music by choirs, no musical instruments may be played inside.Furthermore, no sermons may be delivered, and no ritualistic ceremonies practiced."

WOW…I was excited.

We entered the visitors’ center for a moment and then walked out onto the grounds.  Holding a conversation got difficult as we were both in amazement.  The Temple, composed of a concrete mixture of cement and two types of quartz, is a domed structure with nine pillars.  The intricate detailing and architectural elements of other structures from around the world took me to another place.  I completely forgot that I was 45 minutes from home!  

Walking inside I immediately felt calm.  I felt peaceful.  I felt the Spirit of God.  It was all around me.  I wrapped myself in His light as I read one of the beliefs of the Bahá’í Faith:  there is one God whose existence is beyond our understanding.  He is the Creator of everything, and although we may call him by different names – God or Yahweh, Allah, Brahma, or the Great Spirit – we are speaking about the same loving Presence that has supported and guided humanity throughout history.

I sat for a moment in complete surrender to God.  Full of gratefulness.  Thankful for the silence.  Thankful for the moment to just be.

And as we walked out of the building, full of words that were unable to describe the experience; we both knew that this was not a one-time visit.  We both knew that we would be back.  Back to this place that felt far away - but isn't really far at all!

Angie
Founder, 2 Girls & a Bikini



 

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