Baecation inspiration: I think I might be inspired by love again

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Solo trips are great. Girlfriend trips are awesome. But baecations? They can be EVERYTHING!!!  Let’s face it, whether you’re a romantic or not, there’s nothing like venturing off and exploring the world with someone you truly love.  There’s nothing like stepping out into the unknown and creating new experiences with the one person that truly “gets you”.  Whether it be your other half or just a current fling, baecations  fill a void that solo and girlfriend trips can’t touch.

So what’s your ideal “baecation” or honeymoon destination??  What’s your ideal romantic proposal destination? If you’re undecided, maybe these Instagram moments will give you inspiration.  I know they certainly inspired me. As the saying goes, “it doesn’t matter where you’re going…it’s who you have beside you”.

Introducing, love personified…

 

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Credit: @puretropix (Bahamas)

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Credit: @bobeworld (Havana, Cuba)

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Credit: @yolore (Tobago)

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Credit: @legendaryk9 (St. Tropez, South of France)

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Credit: @neodaviso (Paris)

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Credit: @ibroughton (Santorini, Greece)

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Credit: @porshadanae (Tuileries Palace, Paris)

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Credit: @_alonacharmaine (Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom)

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Credit: @t_bellz (Tobago)

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Credit: @thefrshprinceogblair (National Harbor, DC)

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Credit: @brandonbufford (Puerto Vallarta)

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Credit: @jusbreezep Port Maria (Jamaica)

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Credit: @daddy_mottley (Paris)

Urbantravelista | Get out of your comfort zone

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I guess it’s safe to say that 2016 has definitely been my year of summer “festivaling”.  A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to add another summer festival to my resume: The Chicago Hot Dog Fest.  Located in historic Lincoln Park, the event took place over three days and featured some of Chicago’s top hot dog vendors, live entertainment, face painting, and games. Proceeds benefit the Chicago History Museum and this year marked the fourth year of the festival’s existence.

But here’s an interesting plot twist. I hadn’t eaten a hot dog in almost 30 years. As a native Chicagoan, that’s considered pure blasphemy.  Hot dogs are a staple in my city.  But, once my eighth grade teacher Mr. Patrick (may he rest in peace) decided to share how hot dogs were processed, I lost my desire to ever eat one again. But fast forward 30 years later, attending the fest motivated me to give into peer pressure. I mean, how can I blog about this event and not even try the main product? So, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried a hot dog for the first time in 30 years.

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After posting the photo and caption above on my Facebook page, it didn’t take long for the food Nazis to express their disgust and disappointment.  And I totally get it.  I can understand the naysayers.  In a failed attempt to go completely vegan, I gave up pork and red meat a few years ago. But when I travel abroad or have a new restaurant experience, I try to remove those limits.  We tend to play it safe in life, especially when we travel. We will venture thousands of miles, across several time zones and even cross the international date line, just to eat the same routine foods we eat every day when we’re at home.  Life is short and I don’t believe in wasting experiences anymore.

So the take away is this: whether you’re at home or abroad, it doesn’t hurt to step outside of your comfort zone. It won’t kill you to try something new or unfamiliar. I’m living proof. I ate a hot dog for the first time in 30 years…and LIVED to write about it. And BTW, that hot dog was AMAZING…but it will probably be another 30 years before I experience another one.

Day Trips/Excursions: Ten essential items you’ll regret leaving at home

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I love day trips and excursions, but I love them even more when I travel prepared. Some excursions don’t require intensive preparation, it depends on the activity. Some can be short (a few hours) and others run ALL DAY (up to 12 hours).  When I visited the Chichen Itza last fall, I had a scheduled pick up time at 7:00am and didn’t return until after 6:00pm. That’s longer than my work day!  Although I felt prepared for the long day, there were a still a couple of items I wish I had brought along. Here’s my personal list of 10 essential items that will make any summer excursion or day trip run more smoothly:

 

  1. Water bottle: The tour operator may offer water (depends of the tour), but it never hurts to have your own to stay hydrated.
  2. Disposable Camera:  It’s a good idea to bring a disposable camera, just in case. They’re inexpensive, light, and compact. There’s nothing like traveling thousands of miles to see a landmark only to find you can’t take a picture because you’re primary camera failed.
  3. Portable External Battery Pack:  Some excursions can last just a few hours and as long as 12 hours. Bring a backup portable battery for your electronic devices.
  4. Crossbody Bag/Backpack:  These are probably the most comfortable and efficient bags to carry. They’re big enough to hold your essential items and usually have enough room to add items you might purchases along the way. They’re also durable and comfortable to transport.
  5. Sunscreen:  Depending on the climate and destination, the temps can really climb. Protect your skin just as you would if you were lounging at the beach for longer excursions.
  6. Rain Poncho:  If you’re bothered by heavy downpours, bringing a disposable poncho might be of benefit to you.
  7. Snacks/Energy Bar: Again, this depends on the length of your excursion.  Some tour operators offer snacks and others don’t offer anything.
  8. Travel medications:  The registered nurse in me never leaves home without meds like Benadryl, ibuprofen, or anti-diarrheal. History demonstrates that disaster usually strikes when you have no access to relief.
  9. Sunglasses/Sunhat:The sun can be really unforgiving and cruel during long day excursions. You will appreciate the shade.
  10. Hand towels/Moist Towelettes:  To freshen up during long excursions.

 

This list may seem exhaustive, but don’t stress it. Most tour companies will provide a list of suggested items specific to your activity at the time of booking. Pack light, but pack prepared… and happy travels!

@urbantravelista  

Chosen Few Weekend: Chicago’s Biggest Family Reunion

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So, part one of my 4th of July weekend began with one of Chicago’s biggest annual reunions, The Chosen Few Old School Picnic. Also known as the “Black Woodstock”, the Chosen Few Picnic is one the most anticipated musical events of the summer. House Heads near and far, get up at the crack of dawn (like seriously out at 3am) to set up their tents, throw meat on the grill, and dance and socialize to endless hours of house music. The event is held on the south side of Chicago in Hayes Park and always takes place on July 4th weekend.  It started over 20 years ago as a small gathering and has now grown to thousands of attendees annually.  The event features world renowned guest DJs, live performances and, of course, the legendary Chosen Few DJs.

Now I’ve never considered myself to be a true “house head”, but I do love house music.  It’s a part of my generation and it is a part of Chicago. I remember when it originated and I am part of the generation that used to record mixes from WBMX to my cassette tapes.  I wasn’t old enough to go to the clubs, but I remember my older counterparts raving about the Warehouse, a house club hosted by world renowned and late house DJ pioneer Frankie Knuckles.  Overall, I suppose the event brings a certain feel of nostalgia. You get to listen to the music that saw you through puberty and reunite with old family and friends.  It’s peaceful and drama free. Everyone is there for the same purpose and common goal.

The Chosen Few picnic usually takes place July 4th weekend. Traditionally, it’s always been one day event, coupled with other pre-party and after party events.  But this year, they decided to make it a two day affair.  And as the event has grown over the years, so has the admission. For example, when I first attended five years ago, the cost was only $10 for general admission.  The cost this year was $34 for advanced purchase and $40 at the gate.  There is been a lot of controversy regarding the increasing cost.  Some attendees feel it’s completely justified and others feel the city is trying to take control of the event to generate another income stream. Either way, I think all of us can agree: it’s a damn good time. And I suspect that no matter how much admission goes up, loyal house heads will still be there. And I probably will be too.

I pledge allegiance to “the house”.

 

#TouristInMyTown: Wells Street Art Festival

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So this past weekend, I kicked off my #TouristInMyTown Summer Challenge at the annual Wells Street Art Festival. Usually held the second full weekend of June, the event takes place in historical Old Town, on Wells Street between Division and North Ave.  Sidebar: For almost 3 years, I used to work on the same block as this event and never ever attended SMH!!!

The Wells Street Art Festival features over 225 artists from across the continent with an estimated 50,000 patrons in attendance over the entire weekend . Many of the disciplines represented include: traditional painting and sculpture, artisan woodworking and metalsmithing, jewel craft, and digital arts. There is also live entertainment, a children’s play area, and over 20 food and drink vendors from most of the restaurants in historic Old Town. The festival is located in close proximity to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, walking distance from North Avenue Beach, and very accessible via public transportation.  The cover charge is usually based on whatever donation you would like to give.  This year, they requested $7.00 from each attendee. The gate donations support various community organizations and causes such as homeless services, local schools, hunger initiatives, health education, and arts and culture organizations.

Overall, this event made my weekend. It was peaceful and the first Saturday that we saw 90 degree weather.  And, I also appreciate the festival’s efforts in providing a social platform for unknown and upcoming artists to share and promote their work to those of us that don’t usually get the opportunity to enjoy it.

For vendor or sponsorship opportunities regarding next year’s festival, please visit their website at http://www.wellsstreetartfest.us/#!contactus/c24vq

@urbantravelista