Introducing: Iliah Grant Altoro

Iliah Grant Altoro is an Afro-Española, raising three half Puerto Rican children. Iliah’s global curiosity and activism were imparted to her at an early age by her abuelo. He gave her books to read, globes and maps to study, while demanding that she ask hard questions and seek their answers. He taught her to feel deep empathy toward oppressed people in all parts of the world, and to always live her truths even when they are misunderstood by others. He also encouraged her to fully embrace the beauty in her very diverse cultural background, but to keep Africa as the anchor of her soul. These are the same lessons that she passes down to her children.

While in college, Iliah began to travel all over the globe and her worldview was further expanded. While pregnant with her first daughter at the age of 27, she was bombarded with mocking claims that her free-spirited lifestyle was coming to an end, and that she would never travel again. Despite cultural and family pressures to “settle down” and “stay put,” Iliah decided to redefine motherhood for herself. She has since travel to over 30 countries on five continents with her children, Amaris, Ariela and Nasir.

You can follow Iliah’s journey of travel, authentic living and revolutionary motherhood on her blog, Negra Bohemian. She can also be found on social media @negrabohemian.

Under the Knife and Under the Sun: Plastic Surgery While Traveling

By Camila Luna

Travel and plastic surgery. Yes, I traveled to where it’s sunny and warm (and cheap) and  got plastic surgery. Phew! There, I said it.

Like many of you, I, too, have struggled with self- image. I have looked in the mirror, and despite my best efforts to love myself, have told myself that I don’t like X, Y, or Z about my appearance. And, like many of you, some of those “imperfections” I’ve changed with surgery  (you’d be surprised who has had work done), and other “imperfections” I’ve learned to accept.

For me personally, two of my biggest insecurities have always been my nose and my breasts.  Nose too big, and boobs too small. I have done the typical girl things to cover up these insecurities with contour, bras, and flattering clothing, but at the end of the day when you’re bare-faced and the clothes come off, you’re faced with reality.

So, you’re probably wondering: what work did I get done, and how did I plan for it?

Well, I’ll start with the latter question. Honestly, I did not really plan for my surgery. I was at the beginning of my two-month trip through 3 countries and 5 cities, and I suddenly got the idea that while I’m in Colombia, I might as well get the work done that I have always wanted. Mind you, at the time of my decision, I was in San Francisco and was planning on being in Colombia in about a weeks’ time. I had one week to find a surgeon and schedule the surgery.  I was planning to target my two major “imperfections”: boobs and nose .

Right away I started researching surgeons in Bogota, and even reached out to a few, but then I remembered my dear cousin, who has had quite a bit of work done (and looks gorg, btw). My cousin put me in contact with her surgeon, who wrote me into her busy schedule right away.

While all of this was going on, I was sharing my plan with my close friends and family. Of course, all of them were trying to dissuade me from surgery, and my mom, being a scientist, managed to find some really interesting research on breast implants that ultimately changed my mind about getting them.

Although breast augmentation is one of the most common plastic surgeries in the world, it also has the potential for the most complications. Namely, breast implants are NOT lifetime devices. Although those silicone (or saline) pouches have improved dramatically through the years, if you’re in your 20’s, you must plan and expect to have AT LEAST one more surgery down the line to have the implants replaced or removed. Every extra year that you have your implants, the risk for complications increases, and after every additional surgery to fix or replace your old implants, the risk for complications increases even more. Top that off with the fact that I have a tendency for skin allergies (large foreign object implanted in body= unhappy allergies),  and I realized that breast implants were not worth the risk for me.  The absolute best case scenario was that they’d be great, last me a good 30 years, and then I’d need to have them replaced at age 50 (and then again at 80?? Uhhh…), and the worst case scenario is that I’d have a reaction and have to have them removed in a few years (with no guarantee of the condition of my natural breast skin & tissue after removal). I was not down for either scenario, so I decided against the boob job.

Rhinoplasty, on the other hand, is one-and-done. I knew the risk was not liking my new nose, and the usual complications that go along with surgery, but I trusted the surgeon based on the work she had done on my cousin, so I decided to go for it.

While in Bogota, I got all of my hospital tests done, booked my Airbnb for where I was going to stay (I wanted to have my own space while I was recovering instead of staying with family), and even arranged for someone to take care of me post-surgery when my mom wasn’t around.

I met with my surgeon three times before my operation to discuss what I wanted, what was realistic, and possible complications, and even got to sneak in a super intense 4-day trip to Medellin right before the surgery (not sure if my doctor would have advised that, honestly). Then, exactly one week after I landed in Colombia, I found myself laying on the stretcher, with an IV in my arm, ready for surgery. I couldn’t stop thinking to myself, “This is a joke right now. Am I seriously doing this? Whoah this is crazy. Am I crazy? You’re kidding me right now”. Nevertheless, I went through with the surgery, and woke up 1.5 hours later groggy and with a big cast on my nose… but very happy nonetheless.

Buuut….as soon as I was able to look in the mirror after surgery, my heart sank. My nose was exactly the opposite of what I had wanted! 😱😱 It was upturned, and the space between my lip and nose looked huge. My lips looked thin. I looked like a cross between a chipmunk and a pig (pigmunk). I knew that the way my nose looked then was not going to be the final product and that my cheeks were all types of inflamed, but it was really hard to stay positive.

In the first few days after surgery, I think it’s safe to say I was depressed. Surprisingly, my nose did not hurt at all during the entire recovery process (although my doctor had cut both bone and cartilage), but emotionally, I was not in a good place. My face still looked like a pigmunk, my cast looked crooked, I couldn’t sleep because my nose was so stuffy, and now I was starting to get bruising under my eyes. I was terrified that I was going to have the nose of my nightmares.

I am generally a person who is positive and in a good mood. Even if I’m having a hard time at work or if I get my heart broken, I just cry it out, read some books on inner peace, and then I bounce right back to my normal, happy-go-lucky self (yeah, for my exes reading this… even if you screwed me over, I was SO over you in just a few days 💁💁💁😂) . But post-surgery, there were some days when I just wanted to lay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself. It was a kind of sadness/emotional numbness I hadn’t felt before.

Thoughts whirled in my head. Was I succumbing to unrealistic European beauty standards that weren’t even for me?  Was I minimizing my African and Muisca roots? Was I betraying everything I stood for? Do I love myself? Can I love myself and still risk my health by unnecessarily going under the knife???? And if I don’t love myself… will I ever be able to truly, deeply love anyone else??????

I didn’t want to see anyone, or even walk around the block as my doctor had instructed. I just wanted to lay in bed and think about how bad I looked and then judge myself for being so vain (talk about vortex of self-pity😩) Regardless, I had promised myself that even if I didn’t like my new nose and looked like a pigmunk for the rest of my life, I was not going to get revision rhinoplasty and would just accept myself the way I was. I had PROMISED myself that my nose job was one-and-done.

One week after my surgery, when the highlight of my day was being  able to breathe out of one nostril, I had my first follow-up appointment with my doctor. She removed my cast and immediately I started smiling- under the ugly cast and the tape holding up the tip of my nose, I saw my dream nose! It was smaller, had no bump, and still had the characteristics of my old nose that I liked: it was still long, like my Muisca ancestors, and still round at the tip, like my African ancestors. My new nose was perfect for me, and I knew that through the recovery it was going to look even better!

My doctor put on a new, smaller plastic cast on my nose, and for the first time in a week, I put on some lipstick, dressed up in my cute clothes and even left my house to socialize with family and close friends. Finally I was feeling like myself again!

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Before the procedure I had told myself that my surgery was going to be top secret. I felt ashamed, felt like a huge hypocrite (body- positive feminists don’t get plastic surgery?? 😰), and matter of fact, my biggest fear was returning to Shanghai (where I currently live) and having people realize that I had had my nose done. But with time, I found myself telling almost everyone around me. I told almost everyone except for my three best friends in New York who I would see in two weeks. These girls, who have known me for about a decade, were going to be the test reaction of my nose job. I was excited and nervous.

When I finally arrived to New York about two weeks after my surgery, no one noticed a thing. When I told my friends, all I heard was … *crickets*…. “wait, really?” “but where?” “but what was wrong with your nose?” “did it hurt?”. No one noticed a thing. My family joked that I had wasted my money since the difference was unnoticeable to others.

Despite this extremely anticlimactic reaction from my friends, I am very happy with my surgery and don’t regret it at all. When I look in the mirror, my nose is exactly the way I want, and I can absolutely notice the difference. I still contour my nose, but now it looks just the way I want when I take off my makeup. The difference is very subtle and natural, and I feel much prettier.

Now, for the big question many of you may be wondering about: how much did my surgery cost? The surgeon fee cost the equivalent of about $1,300, but with the hospital fees, anesthesia, medicine, etc, I would say the whole surgery cost about $2,000. This is freaking cheap AF. I paid it in USD, which probably thrilled my doctor.

I have decided to be open about my surgery because honestly, surgery is serious, it was as much an emotional journey as a physical one, and it is an experience that has changed me both inside and out. I know there is a lot of stigma and judgment around people who get work done, especially in the US. But honestly, I feel more comfortable and free when I’m open with others- even if they disapprove. I don’t want to normalize plastic surgery, but I want those of us who have chosen to go under the knife to be included in the self-love dialogue, just like everyone else. If you’re reading this and thinking terrible things about me (or even feeling “concern”/ “pity” for me), it’s ok, I honestly don’t mind- maybe you also secretly want to get some work done… hahaha 👀🙊.  Also, I understand it can be hard to wrap your mind around the fact that someone would get surgery just for vanity.

Either way I’m still me, and even though I changed one “imperfection” with surgery, I’m still on the journey of learning to tolerate/love my body. Will I have more invasive plastic surgery in the future? Honestly, I hope not. I’m happy with what I’ve done and don’t want more. Will I get little things like fillers or Botox? Honestly…. that’s a definite yes.

Mostly, I want to continue this journey of body acceptance/enhancement/modification with a prayer for myself and everyone reading this:

 “Universe, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

 

Oh, and one last thing. If you’re considering surgery while traveling, here’s what you should know:

10 things to know before getting plastic surgery while traveling:

  1. Unresolvable cognitive dissonance. But… but…I’m a body- positive, intersectional feminist who barely shaves her legs… how can I get plastic surgery??????
  2. No flying for at least 10 days after surgery. Nope, ya can’t leave right away! And if you’re in a mountainous place like Bogota, you need to be in the city at least three days before surgery while your body adjusts to the altitude.
  3. No sun. I know, the title is misleading. No matter how beautiful the beach is near you, after surgery, you need to stay out of the sun to prevent swelling and possibly permanent discoloration.
  4. You will probably feel depressed. This was big for me. You will probably be in your room, in pain/uncomfortable, questioning your life choices/ beauty standards/mental health/sanity, and feeling ugly as hell for at least a week after surgeryThis can be quite isolating, and you might be thinking of all the cool things you could be doing if you weren’t suffering from your own vanity.
  5. Kissing will hurt, and you need to curb the hanky-panky and any other form of exercise. Sometimes flings & things happen while traveling, so tell your new amiguito to chill because you just had surgery and can’t get too crazy with any type of physical activity.
  6. With your cast on in Latin America, people will assume you got a nose job. With your cast on in the US, people will assume you had an accident… LOL
  7. You will think people are judging you, and they probably are, but guuurl (or boy or they/them)….. do you anyways.
  8. No alcohol in the days before and no alcohol for at least two weeks after surgery. Yep, gotta curb the fiesta.
  9. You should definitely speak the local language, or find a doctor who speaks excellent English. Clear communication with your surgeon is SO important to get the results you want.
  10. RESULTS ARE NOT GUARANTEED!! There is a possibility you will not like your results or that there will be complications. Be sure you are very, VERY aware of this and be emotionally prepared to deal with this kind of situation if it happens.
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When I posted this photo from my room in Bogota, no one would have guessed I was laying in bed with a cast on my nose.

Check out more of Camila’s articles on the Travel Latina website, and check out her travel blog in photographs at @camila.lunaaaaa on Instagram!

 

Living Out of a Carry-On For 2 weeks

I’m a recovering over-packer.

Like, I’m sure I’ll need these 5 pairs of shoes and binoculars at some point, right?

Even if I packed a huge check-in bag and brought a carry-on, I would still sneak a few extra things into my purse. Ironically, having more options didn’t make me feel more prepared. It only made me more anxious. It was never enough!

I thought I would have a never-ending feeling of leaving something behind with such a small suitcase. Instead I found that having fewer choices during the trip saved money, luggage space, and mental space. I could focus more on what to do rather than what to wear.

The first time I traveled with only a carry-on was on a two-week trip to Europe, but it was more of a financial necessity than a choice at the time. Traveling with discount airlines comes with it’s own price: very strict carry-on rules. What was really essential?

I had to cut so many items from my packing list, and came up with these quick solutions:

  • Neutrals are in for a reason – they look good with almost anything and are simple to mix and match. If it’s not going to be worn more than once then it probably shouldn’t come along for the journey. (Sorry, red pants, but you’re more of a one-time statement piece, you know?)
  • What about the walking situation? Should I take comfortable sneakers that aren’t very cute or cute sneakers that aren’t very comfortable? I took the soles out of my comfortable sneakers and put them inside the cute ones #problemsolver.  
  • I was beginning to embrace my curly hair at that time, so I had a few travel-size versions of my favorite curly hair products. Everything else can probably be bought after landing. (Other people wash their hair too!)
  • If underwear is not essential I don’t know what is. I brought plenty of it, but swapped out a few of my regular bras for sports bras and bralettes. I initially did it because they saved space when folded, but then I figured out they also minimize underboob sweat. (You’re welcome!)

None of this is really about clothes or luggage, is it? For me, overpacking was another way I created an illusion of control. More options were more ways to control unexpected situations.

If this, then I’ll be prepared with that.

It’s impossible to anticipate everything about a trip. Being worried about whether we’re prepared for what might happen tomorrow is an illusion; a distraction from what’s actually happening today.

Sometimes we have to be ok with knowing that we don’t know everything. But isn’t that why we travel? To grow comfortable with the unknown, not the expected.

Here’s to traveling light and living light.

Introducing: Sam Cartagena

Sam Cartagena is a writer, blogger and publicist based in Jersey City, NJ. She’s the founder of Ambition + Mischief, a space that celebrates personal growth and mindful productivity for badass women. She grew up in Washington Heights, NY and is a proud Afro-Dominicana. She’s traveled to over 15 countries (and counting), where she’s always reminded that growth and comfort do not coexist. Follow Sam’s journey as she shares stories about work, life and travel on AmbitionandMischief.com and on Instagram @Ambition.Mischief.

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Burning Man: Chinese Edition

I had recently moved to the somewhat antiseptic Shanghai, China, and was trying to downplay my natural “eccentricity” to avoid scaring away potential friends. I was starting to feel a little disconnected from the free spirit in my heart, divorced from the boogie-down-Brooklyn in me, and disjointed from my colorful lipstick and even more colorful wigs. Detached from some of the things that made me feel like…me.

And then I found Dragon Burn.

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Interactive heart that glows to the rhythm of participants’ pulses

Dragon Burn is the Chinese Regional Burning Man. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Burning Man, it’s an annual iconic, desert-dwelling gathering. But don’t get it twisted- it’s not a music festival- it’s a community of beautiful souls, coming together to share their gifts, talents, music, and most importantly, their love. Like Burning Man, Dragon Burn is based off a few key principles that really resonate with me. These are concepts like radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, inclusion, and decommodification.

Dragon Burn was exactly what I needed and expected…but there were, of course, some surprises.

On one of the first days of DB, one of the organizers asked me what was most surprising about the experience, and in all honesty, I said “the work involved”. Dragon Burn is not a spectator sport. You don’t show up to be a part of a fashion show, to be catered to, or even just to party. At Burning Man, you participate, you give, you love, and you work. Our camp had mouths to feed. Who will feed these mouths? Us. Part of forming a community of people who love each other is forming a community of people who care for each other, who nurture and support each other, are responsible for one another, and who put actions behind their words. Although of course, no one likes to think of “kitchen duty” or “camp setup” as pleasurable, ultimately, it helps us connect to others through the undeniable awareness of what others are doing for us, and what we have done for others. I experienced work as a profound art of giving and caring.

Another major theme in my experience of Burning Man was the feeling of freedom. I was free to be who I wanted, to come and go as I desired, and to connect with others in ways that challenged me but were ultimately absolutely fulfilling.

I was free to dress (or undress) in any way that felt completely genuine to my heart without gender expectations or body shame. Did I want to wear my big Brooklyn (faux) fur coat? Did I want to dress up as Mulan? Did I want to be a dominatrix in all spandex and leather? Or did I want to free the nipple? All was fair at the Burn, which was so, so liberating.

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My first tattoo: a stick-and-poke

 

Next, was GROWTH. I was also able to explore various types of relationships, and I was given the opportunity to constantly learn new things through dozens of daily workshops that were given on subjects as far-ranging as Tantra, to mandala-making, to tattooing. I was able to grow spiritually through all of these experiences and form new connections with myself and with others.

I realized how many artists, scientists and spiritual thinkers we have in our midst, which is so, so eye- opening. If you take the time to listen, the stranger sitting next to you on the train could open your eyes to another universe. Even when I felt I had nothing to give, I realized that even my gifts were appreciated- I was able to contribute some of my own knowledge and skills through giving a salsa workshop (yeah, yeah- sprinkling a little Sabor Latino in China 😉 ).

On the final day of Burning Man was the long-awaited BURN. Yes, burn. Fire burn. Ashes, ashes. Everything burns away. We had all worked so hard to build the effigy, or the giant wooden dragon, and now, we were going to burn it. But not only were we burning the dragon, we were also burning our other wooden structures we had so carefully put together. We were burning our wooden bar on which I had served so many drinks, burning our James Brown statue, and even some of our small wooden decorations.

Items I had grown a close affinity to were now going to be ashes. This reinforced to me the art of LETTING GO. Building, loving, experiencing, and then letting go. Letting your love exist in your heart but then allowing it literally to flow into the wind. Creating friendships, connections, and relationships, and then knowing that things may never be the same. But something about the energy, the interconnectedness, and the partnership of dancing around the fire with my new community while everything turned to ashes reminded me that yes, the people, places, and objects, in my life may change, but the love, the universal life force, and the energy behind them will never disappear.

After the Burn, I knew that I would never be the same. I walked into my home and everything looked, tasted, and smelled the same, but I was different. I was absolutely exhausted to the bone, yet felt radiant. I was humbled to the core but sensed a new confidence in my being. I was weird but appreciated.

But most of all, I realized that I am minuscule, tiny. A dot on the edge of this world. Yet somehow, I could see the universe inside my soul.

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Volunteers building the effigy- the giant dragon that would later be burned

Scarlet Macaw Trips by Sahara Borja

“A social purpose travel effort that emphasizes a rich cultural experience while empowering local communities.”

Born in Toronto, where her father from Cali, Colombia had met her mother from the Bronx, New York, Sahara Borja is now connecting with her roots once again through the creation of her brand new social purpose travel effort: Scarlet Macaw Trips. The trips – headed back to Cartagena this summer and in early 2018 – are curated with both the beauty and reality of the region in mind. The trips will continue to find mutually beneficial ways for travellers, local artisans, NGOs and local organizations, schools, and women’s groups in the region to work together within the broader, more well-known travel experience of day trips and nights out dancing to champeta.

Baby Sahara in Cali, Colombia with family from both sides

Despite a few visits to Cali to visit family, she was really able to dig her heels in and reconnect with with her roots while on a Fulbright research grant in Cartagena, where she worked with women and youth in the situation of internal displacement via photography and interviews at the University of Cartagena. While there, she connected with a professional tour guide, a native of Cartagena, and a couple of years later the idea for all-inclusive trips to Cartagena was born. This August, they’re offering a unique opportunity to learn and experience aspects of the culture in a number of immersive and participatory ways, while also having one hell of a time.

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Sahara with Fulbright colleagues and friends in Cartagena, Colombia

Ms. Borja states: “Part of our itinerary takes us to La Boquilla, a primarily Afro-Colombian fishing village where we offer a lunch-and-learn with a local organization and eat on the beach in a makeshift restaurant with food cooked by Abuelita (aka Everybody’s GRAMMA!). Another day we’ll head to San Basilio de Palenque, the first free town of The Americas, founded by escaped slaves.

She explains that this trip is especially relevant for those interested in the African Diaspora as it is seen in this region of the Caribbean, in South America and Colombian culture, music, food, and in the class and race perspectives of the southern hemisphere.

“Being bicultural in the US is a trip; I’ve forever had the pull of Colombia within me. It’s a complicated untangling if you can’t afford to travel that much!” Though this trip costs $2,199 sans airfare, it’s an all-inclusive 8 days and 7 nights, and includes a professional photographer, artisan goodies to take home, breakfast, most lunches, and transportation throughout the week. The trip can be paid for in instalments with 40% deposit due at first.

Be sure to check out this inaugural amazing trip you won’t want to miss!

Introducing: Kayla Zapata Fory

Kayla is a native Californian of Afro-Colombian roots with family on four continents and cousins seemingly everywhere. Her passion for travel started after an amazing summer study abroad to Havana, Cuba. The more Kayla traveled, she realized the exceptional fluidity of identity within different cultures and environments. Kayla was inspired by these experiences to launch a bilingual travel blog called Tejiendo Experiences that curates content from the African diaspora and shares her adventures around the world.

Kayla is passionate about promoting international social enterprises and sustainable development. Since graduating with a B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University, Kayla now lives in Accra, Ghana where she works for an ethical fashion brand supporting local artisan communities. She hopes to apply for an MBA program to learn more about scaling social impact in emerging economies. When she is not solving international fashion crises, you can find Kayla drinking coconut water, hunting for new fabric deals or reading at the beach around Accra.

See her features on a vibe.com and melaninass.com and follow her on Instagram @kaylafory

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Kayla in Busua Beach, Ghana

10 Best Travel Beauty Tips For Latinas

It is no surprise for many of us that Latin women dominate the world of beauty pageants especially the beauty contest called Miss Universe. Latinas take lots of pride in their beauty regiment from spending rigorous time at the gym, to following their favorite beauty blogger for never ending beauty tips. Latinas simply enjoy looking presentable and stylish. You will catch a Latina red handed watching their favorite novelas and scanning their favorite actress for beauty tips. According to statistics, there is a growing population of Hispanic women spending more money in the beauty industry, and companies targeting Latina consumers. Allow me to shed some light on another industry which Latinas are warming up to: the Travel Industry. Not at a large scale yet, but Latinas are baby stepping themselves to earn more sky miles, which brings me to the reasons why I want to cluster a few tips regarding Beauty and travel for the latin beauty.

1. Beauty Rest

It may sound obvious, but us Latinas are known for running around like a greyhound trying to shop for our travel outfits, make-up, hair salon, and our “do not get on that plane without a pedicure/manicure” regiment while forgetting to get some rest so we arrive at our destination looking and feeling fresh. So mija, start a new routine. Start packing and planning for your trip ahead of time so on the final days before your vacation, you can just schedule a massage instead.

2. Yelp is Your New Bestie

There are times our high demanding schedule doesn’t allow us to conquer all of our beauty regiments before a trip. So what do we do? Visit Yelp (website) and enter your destination to search where is the nearest beauty store, salon, or spa, so if you happen to need it, it is at your disposal.

3. Don’t Forget Your Accessories

Yes, there are times we tend to forget the little details. But these small details are what can make a big difference in our beauty kit. So make sure you pack pins aka “pinchos” so you can use them to wrap your hair or playfully create different updos abroad. Also, it is important to bring a small amount of cotton wipes, toiletries, and Q-Tips.

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Check this beautiful pins  from Amazon www.amazon.com

4. Flats Are Your New Pumps

I know you can spot a Latina canvassing a mall with high heels or stopping at their corner store  with stilettos. But times have changed and comfort is the new black. Which is why it is essential to make room inside your maleta to insert flats, sandals, or comfortable sneakers. Why? Because when you feel like conquering the streets of Rome, you want to do it in comfort. Trust me on this one!

5. Do Not Wear Make-Up On Board

Please do not board a plane with applied make-up and leave it on so when you land your face looks like The Joker. You don’t want to deal with that. Instead, remove your makeup and 15 minutes before you land, just re-apply it.

6. Silk Pillow

Instead of planting your head on those standard airplane pillows and having your hair look like it had a battle with static, just purchase a silky travel pillow.

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Click to find out more about the pillow www.amazon.com

7. Keep Germs At Bay

Germs are a global concern and they are not planning to disappear from this planet anytime soon. So pack that scented sanitizer inside you cosmetic bag and squeeze when needed.

8. Polish Your Skin

Want to know the secret behind soft shiny skin? If so, start exfoliating often especially when your getaway involves sun and beach.

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This is one of my favorite exfoliator purchased at Amazon  click on this link –100% Natural Scrub

9. Bring Some Workout Gear

I know we spend months on preparing for that trip by working out rigorously before our departure day. But why not keep your fitness routine abroad? By working out at your destined place, you can interact with the locals, check out the neighborhood, and relax your mind.

10.  Don’t Check In Your Toothbrush

Last but not least, do not leave your toothbrush or toothpaste inside your check-in bag. Instead bring it with you and place it inside your purse. Why? After a long flight or during any baggage delays, you want to make sure you have a toothbrush and toothpaste at your disposal. You don’t want to negotiate any flight delays with bad breath. Bonus: stash some undies in your purse while you are at it.

There chicas! This is just a short list to get your traveling happening on a good start. It is always good to be prepared than not. And why not look fabulous when strolling down that airport runaway….

I know you have some beauty tips! Don’t be shy and share below.

 

Introducing: Danica Liriano

Danica is a 29 years old Dominican-Salvadorian, born and raised outside of New York City. Her love for travel began when she studied abroad in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Now as a NYC history teacher, she encourages her own students to go out of their comfort zones and explore other cultures as well. She taught Global History in New York City for four years before serving in Peace Corps Nicaragua for two years as a TEFL teacher trainer. Besides being passionate about education and travel, Danica also enjoys dance, photography, and FOOD! She loves food.

Read, Book, and Explore Machu Picchu!

I didn’t know that booking a ticket to explore Machu Picchu will enable my eyes to see the revealing beauty and indigenous mystery that lies within this great wonder of our world. So many people describe Machu Picchu as a philosophical voyage that serenades you with so much history and breathtaking views like no other. Many regard this destination so major that once checked off their bucket list, other must do’s are just accessory items on their travel wish list. I’m sure all this hype must tickle a nerve within you and makes you wonder, what is all the fuss about? Why is Machu Picchu a travel stamp high in demand for every passport holder? I had to book a flight to Peru and go on this expedition to discover this South American jewel. The Travel 101 experience was the only way to answer these questions and reason why the world is so in love with Picchu!

Behind the Mystery of Machu Pichu:
A masterpiece dating back to 1450’s, this mountain burghal was once the home of the Powerhouse Inca Empire. Upon researching the origin of its discovery, I concluded the facts with the explanation of many urban legends of who, when, why Machu Picchu exists? But there is one story which stood out the most: the voyage of American historian and lecturer, Hiram Bingman. It is recorded that his actual experience to Machu Picchu led him to collect many artifacts of the Incas Empire, which led to its cultural explanation and one of the reasons why Machu Picchu is one of the most visited places in the world. I just wanted to delight you with some history treats, but let us move on to the fun part of making this visit come true.

 

Getting you there:
There are hundreds of tours, website, and airlines which take you to Peru, where the historical site is located. But one website where flight deals are thrown at you like confetti is Skyscanner. This site offers you many options as to where and which airlines accommodates your budget. The most popular airlines flying to Peru are Avianca, Lan, and Taca. One way to beat the price boogie man is flying to Lima, Peru and then take a local flight to Cusco. Some people stay in Cusco then take a Railroad to Machu Picchu and some fly direct to Cusco, which tends to be more expensive. I flew into Lima then took another flight to Cusco for under $600. Once in Cusco, you have the option to reach the mountain via Railroad which is a 3-hour scenic ride of nature’s treasures or a challenging hike which takes a few days. My favorite website of booking the train ride is called, Perurail. Their service is royalty and the picturesque glass view strokes your every emotion. You must book the Vistadome ride so your eyes are taken hostage by the scenery surprise.


Where to rest?
Well, the good news is that you have many options whether to stay in Cusco or Aguas Caliente. If you want a local feel and witness the colorful life of the people in the warm town of Cusco, then book your stay there. For the budget traveler, one good place to stay is Pariwana Hostel (website). It’s clean, friendly, and has a close proximity to main attractions. Also, they host nightly events for their guests. For a more luxurious stay in Cusco, there are places like Belmond Hotel Monasterio (website) and Aranwa Boutique Hotel (website). Websites like http://www.bookings.com, http://www.hotels.com, & http://www.jetsetter.com offer lots of choices to rest those exploring bones.


Visiting the site:
Don’t let Machu Picchu be one of those places you wish you would have visited, because quite frankly, you are going to regret it! One of the most enchanting and curiosity booster is when you hop on the bus, which takes 15 minutes to the entrance of the site. The ride is a slow-motion slideshow of the Peruvian Andes. You witness how each layer of the hills unveil photo worthy landscape features, which brings you to agree that this path to the mountaintop is a beautiful way to greet its guests. The average cost for the bus ride is $20 USD. Things you need to know when planning your visit: book your tickets ahead of time, wear appropriate clothes for hiking, drink plenty of water, and wear sunscreen during the hot season. Also, you have different options as to which level of the mountain top you will like to visit: Picchu or Wayna. I chose Wayna, the most challenging route but the view from the top is heavenly. Once you reach the top, the experience feels like the most intimate moment you will ever have with nature. Please note** not recommend for the elderly, children, and physically disabled. For more information please visit Machu Picchu’s (website) and please note, you can book the ticket with confidence on their site.

 

Best time to visit
While I personally believe Machu Picchu is always a good idea, you must know its weather seasons in order to plan wisely. Rainy season is usually between October & April, and Dry season is usually May & September. If you don’t mind the crowd, then you know you have to visit Machu Picchu during the dry season as it is peak time for tourism. Want to skip the crowd? Then visit the site during the rainy season. FYI Cusco tends to be a bit on the cooler side in comparison to Lima due to its high elevation.

Want to add more flavors to this post? If so, share any questions or travel tips regarding Machu Picchu below.