Category Archives: Travel Abroad

THINGS I CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT!!

Standard

In this three part travel series, we have looked at some ways to identify budget airfares, and we’ve looked at a cadre of economical accommodation choices.

In the last of this series, I want to share some things that I just can’t and will not travel without. These items provide great comfort to me while traveling, and when I’m packing I get a kick out of including them in my suitcase and knowing that I am going to feel secure with them while I’m on the road.  So here goes!

A GREAT PAIR OF WALKING SHOES!

You will never catch me without my Riekers. This shoe is heaven against concrete. They are stylish, come in a variety of colors, and they seem to match any outfit (minus ones that need heels). I purchased my first pair in 2015 when I visited 11 cities in France. Two months afterwards, they remained glued to my feet while trekking through Sydney, Australia.

They aren’t cheap, but I have learned that if I’m going to put out good money on anything, it might as well be on a solid pair of shoes — Riekers it is!

A SET OF PACKING CUBES

This is another travel goodie that I can’t be without. Coming in a multitude of colors (I have the lime green set), this nugget makes packing not only convenient, but fun also!  I have a a set of three — one cube accommodates my underwear, socks, pantyhose and pajamas; another cube accommodates all of my tops and blouses; and one that I can use for all of my bottoms.

img_1791

I’m even able to squeeze in a toletries bag. Life is easy on the road with these babies!  Once I get to my hotel or Airbnb, I just place the three cubes in the drawers and pull out what I need daily.  My cubes are manufactured by ebags.

TRAVEL BLANKET

Talk about comfort — my Flight 001 Travel Blanket is perfect for when I get a bit chilly on the airplane or on a tour coach. It feels wonderful — its lightweightness is perfect, and it comes in its own pouch for easy transport.

img_1797

IPOD AND SONY HEADPHONES

I have loaded my iPod with a variety of jazz, classical and r&b — anything from Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald to Alicia Keys!

Additionally, when I use my Sony headphones to listen to the wonderful array of music, I experience a quality of sound like no other. They make especially long flights (like my flight to Sydney, Australia in 2015) most enjoyable.

TRAVELON CROSS-BODY BAGS WITH RFID-BLOCKING CARD AND PASSPORT SLOTS

Now THIS is the piece de resistance! I am able to carry a bottle of water, my wallet, tissue, writing pen and throat lozenges. There is a slot for my passport, and there is even room for my Samsung smartphone.

LUGGAGE SCALE

My Digital Luggage Scale comes in handy and keeps me from paying over the top luggage fees.  My scale is a life saver, and both American Weigh and Samsonite have nice ones!

img_1807

CANON EOS REBEL T5 DSLR CAMERA

During my many years of traveling, I have used a point and shoot camera or my Smartphone’s camera.  I have been pleased with how my pics have turned out, and others have commented on what nice pics I take.  This past fall, I enrolled in a photography course that taught me just how much more I could do with a professional  camera, so I invested in  Canon EOS Rebel T5 digital camera!

Although I have been taking photos galore, my trip to Australia in 2017 will be my first trip where I will use my DSLR.  I can’t wait to share the outcomes with you!

img_1780

SAMSONITE STRYDE HARDSIDE GLIDER LONG JOURNEY (WISHLIST ITEM)

I don’t own one yet, but I promise you — I’m going to get this one! It’s roomy and perfect for housing packing cubes while still leaving enough room to pack other items.  It spins nicely and will glide alongside you as you walk.

img_1790

It also comes in a medium and carry on size.

Needless to say, I am inseparable from my iPad, which also allows me to read a book that I’ve downloaded through my Kindle App.

These are just small samplings of what makes me happy on the road.  What travel comforts can’t you live without?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

RECAP OF QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES — THIS I DO FOR ME

Standard

Since my last quarterly recap, I have been ultra busy.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

THEATER, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, TRAVEL, OUTINGS, BOOK LAUNCHES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, Oh My!

  •  I and a group of friends took in “Leavings,” an   outstanding theater production written by playwright Gail Parrish!  This is one of those works that have you immersed in deep thinking long after you’ve seen it;
  • Attended Chicago’s Steppenwolf the play “Fundamentals.”  This work humorously examines the world of Upward Mobility for women;
  • I enrolled in a six week photography class offered by Blue 1647, a tech and business incubator program dedicated to increasing the number of tech savvy people of color; our instructor, Amber, quelled my fears and emphasized how important it is to let my personality come through my work. I now feel more confident, and I look forward to utilizing what I’ve learned.
  • After running a contest on Facebook where the winner had to guess my favorite American city, I and winner Twanda Gates, took a Helicopter Tour of downtown Chicago. The prize was sponsored by Mighty Mongoose, a company that specializes in curating exciting outings in big cities like Boston and Chicago.  Rotorzen Helicopter Tours was the operator;

IMG_1774.JPG

  • THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME (TIDFM) celebrated its first year anniversary in August 2015. It’s hard to believe that an entire year of fun and growth has gone by;
  • Artwork and graphic design were created for an imminent TIDFM T-shirt (to be unveiled in early 2017).  Also, a logo was created;
  • I announced TIDFM’s 2018 International Excursion to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece!

img_1743

  • I attended the book launch and release party for new author  Marilyn D. Willis’ book “Winning Through Early Detection and the Beauty Behind It.”  I am convinced that this book with save lives and inspire women to live their best lives despite a cancer diagnosis;

img_1783

  • Most excitingly, I created a group for over 200 age 50+ women. The goal of the group is to uplift, share successes and remind this age cohort that there is still plenty of beautiful life to live and EXPERIENCE!
  • I booked a January 2017 trip to beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. I will have the pleasure of spending The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend in King’s hometown with 10 cousins for our annual “Cousin’s Weekend!”

I am so excited about what is in store for TIDFM.  I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you.

IMG_1554.JPG

NOTE:  Do you have suggestions for a TIDFM outing or activity?     Please feel free to email me any ideas at robin@thisidoforme.com

Wanna Join Me in Greece?!?!

Standard

As you all know, I love to travel! So, I’m letting you in on a little secret today!

This…I…Do…For…Me is announcing its 2018 International Excursion (its back to Sydney, Australia in 2017) to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos!

The beautiful aspect of this adventure is that airfare is also included, making this one of the most affordable international offerings that you will come across.

There are only 14 slots available, and as I announced this dream vacation on my social media platforms today, five slots were immediately taken! Don’t think too hard — JUST GO!

If you are seriously interested in seeing stunning Greece, please contact me at 773/759-1374 for information on cost, payment plans and a detailed itinerary.

OPA!

img_1708

 

A RECAP: ONE YEAR OF THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME!

Standard

It was exactly one year on August 15, 2015 that I launched This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM)! It has been a year of tremendous growth, creativity, meeting fascinating people, traveling to places that I thought I’d never visit and stepping out with the belief that I could carry TIDFM off into the world for the benefit of women who are 50 years of age and older!

image.png

I am most proud of the business’s website thisidoforme.com; this is the pipeline for posting information for our clients and readers in the areas of Art/Literature, Theater/Dance, Music/Concerts, Food/Restaurants, For the Soul, and Travel. I chose to focus on these areas for the website, as well as the blog thisidoforme.wordpress.com because activities, outings and excursions would serve as the focal point to encourage our target population to immerse and treat themselves, particularly since they have spent countless years caring for others.

image.jpeg

Here are some of the fun things that I, along with my adventurous clients explored this past year:

TRAVEL

In September 2015 – It was 11 cities in France – Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon, Monaco, St. Paul de Vence, St. Balme Maxime, Nice, Lyon and St. Tropez! I left feeling like France was my home.

In November 2015 – It was magnificent Sydney, Australia! I have a trip planned for eight people planned in November 2017!

In January 2016 – It was the beautiful shores of Orange County and Los Angeles, California!  Shopping and sheer relaxation was the order of day for a solid week.

In June 2016 – I had the honor of traveling to Madrid, Salamanca and La Alberca, Spain! It was here that I fell in love with the culture, the magnificent food and the warm and loving people. I even had the chance to take a short side trip to Dublin, Ireland! I must go back there if for no other reason than I must spend more time in some of neighborhood pubs that are full of life, laughter and good food to accompany that fun environment.

ON THE TRAVEL RADAR FOR 2017:

It’s looking like Atlanta, Georgia in January, Cuba in February and back to Sydney, Australia in November 2017! Life is Good!

THEATER AND DANCE

Some of the theater outings that TIDFM clients participated in included Byhalia, Mississippi at The Steppenwolf Theater, Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window at The Goodman Theater, the musical 42nd Street at The Cadillac Palace Theater, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at The Oriental Theater and Satchmo at the Waldorf at Hyde Park’s Court Theater.

ON THE THEATER AND DANCE RADAR FOR 2017:

The critically acclaimed Hamilton (hopefully my group’s name will move up the wait list)! If I see nothing else except Hamilton in 2017, it will have been a good year.

FOOD AND RESTAURANTS

Yes, I and my clients love to eat! I, along with food critic Eleni Murphy reviewed some interesting restaurants. Eleni even shared some of her London, England favs. Oftentimes, these restaurants were sampled following a theater performance. What a way to top off a great production!

Here are some of the restaurants visited and reviewed during TIDFM’s first year of operation:

1. Café Ba Ba Reeba (Chicago, Illinois)
2. Sobrino de Botin (Madrid, Spain)
3. NAC (London, England)
4. Kappacasein Dairy (London, England)
5. Granger and Co (London, England)
6. Berners Tavern (London, England)
7. Sweet Mandy B’s (Chicago, Illinois)
8. Del Seoul (Chicago, Illinois)
9. Summer House Santa Monica (Chicago, Illinois)
10. Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago, Illinois)
11. Cemetia’s Puebla (Chicago, Illinois)
12. Nini’s Deli (Chicago, Illinois)
13. Podhalanka (Chicago, Illinois)
14. Mercado San Miguel (Madrid, Spain)

ON THE FOOD AND RESTAURANT RADAR IN 2017

1. Army Thai on Damen
2. La Palapa on 34th Street

ART AND LITERATURE

I and a client attended the “Portraits of Motherhood” Exhibit, which highlighted the artistic talent of Antonia Ruppert. I found a gem on the south side of Chicago – The Creative Room located in the heart of the Park Manor community. This design studio’s mission is to provide a space for people to create their own DIY (do it yourself) interior design projects.  Clemenstien Love is the mastermind behind this hidden treasure.

I provided overview of books that I’ve read over the past year – including a few children’s books. There were a mixture of travel, music, autobiography/memoirs, short stories and social justice commentaries.  They ranged from biographies of culinary icon Marcus Samuelsson to children’s classics like “Corduroy” by Don Freeman.  For reviews of the other selections, please check out the art and literature link on thisidoforme.com

ON THE ART AND LITERATURE RADAR IN 2017

I plan in conjunction with another entity to include my clients on a few Famous House Tours during the holidays. Please stay tuned.

FOR THE SOUL

One of my favorite things to do in conjunction with the business is learning about the myriad ways in which women care for themselves even in the midst of dealing with life’s stressors. This section of the website spotlights a diversity of women who share with TIDFM’s audience how they care for their souls, especially as they are taking care of other people, their jobs/businesses.  Please check it out as you might find some helpful hints on self-care and the exploration of new things.

My first year has been loaded with fun, doubt, new experiences and places, great people and a true excitement about TIDFM’s future growth.

The growth of TIDFM has manifested through the creation of a logo, connecting with Mighty Mongoose Tours to write a blog post of an upcoming helicopter excursion, participation in The Diverbo program in Spain, serving as a guest on the radio program “Living it Up After 50,” hired two freelance writers for the website, ran two TIDFM contests, announced TIDFM’s first international excursion to Sydney, Australia, and I was asked to review a self-empowerment book by a coaching expert.

I am grateful to our readers, those who traveled with me and those who joined us on a number of outings. In the coming year, I plan to broaden TIDFM’s reach, and I hope you will stick around for the ride.

image.jpeg

PHOTO ABOVE:  Me enjoying Indoor Skydiving!

 

VOLUNTEER IN SPAIN!

Standard

image

Photo:  Some of the Volunteers and Spainards — Class #1056.  I’m on the far left

NEW BLOG POST!

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO GET TO SPAIN!

Everyone thinks that the primary way to travel is by taking a traditional vacation replete with great hotels, tour guides, super expensive airfares and meals. I’m here to tell you that another fantastic way to get your travel jones satisfied is through participation in the Diverbo Program!

What is Diverbo, you ask? It is a language immersion program (means diversity and language) designed for Spanish speaking adults (there is also a children’s and youth program). Many of the program’s participants are employees of companies where gaining a greater command of the English language is becoming increasingly important. As a result, these employers are willing to invest in their employees so that transacting business with English speaking clients becomes easier.

image

Photo:   Volunteers and Spainards hanging out in La Alberca, Spain

The Spanish speaking participants during my time with the program ranged from 18 to mid 50s. They were from Barcelona, Malaga, Almeria, Madrid, Bilbao and Marbella. Additionally, the English speaking volunteers were from various parts of the United States, England, New Zealand and Canada and were of varying ages.
Here’s how it works.

image

Photo:  Improving their English, Diverbo is a week of immersion

You must complete an application that gives you an opportunity to share why the Diverbo Program is of interest to you. By the way, the program prefers people who speak no Spanish so that you are not tempted to speak the language with participants who really need the immersion in English during your eight (8) days in La Alberca (Salamanca Region), Spain.

You will have the sheer pleasure of working with the Spainards individually and in group settings to improve their English through FUN activities and activities. More importantly, you will walk away from the experience with a boatload of new friends – both from Spain and around the globe.

image.jpeg

Photo:  Volunteers and Spainards getting familiar with the town of La Alberca, Spain

You must be willing to talk, talk, talk and talk some more! The activities are led by a Master of Ceremonies and a Diverbo Program Director. Some days, I laughed so hard that I cried – that is how fun the exercises are. Needless to say, although I was a volunteer, I ended my week with Diverbo having received more than I gave. Eternal Bonds are created.

Diverbo covers the cost of your accommodations (lovely villas) and all meals (extremely delicious). Even two glasses of wine were included with every lunch and every dinner!

image.jpeg

Photo:  My Villa while during my eight days volunteering with Diverbo

This volunteer experience has left an indelible impression on my entire life.  Travel had always been a vechicle for my growth and development, and it has allowed me to really push to get the most out if life.  However, a volunteer travel experience really forces you to see that it’s not always about you, but how you make a difference in another’s life.  Would I do Diverbo/Pueblo Ingles, again?  I’ll just say,”Viva la Espana!”

image

Photo:    Can someone tell me where all the fun is?

For more information, visit Diverbo.come

September and October 2016: A Recap of Travel, Education And Fun

Standard

imageEvery two months, I will provide an update on my travels, activities and any new venture that materializes.  Here is what I had the opportunity to experience during September and October 2016:

TRAVEL:

From September 9-20, 2015, I experienced Wonderful France that featured excursions to Paris, Avignon, Arles, Aix-En-Provence, St. Tropez, Nice, Monaco, Lyon, St. Paul de Vence, Beaune and St.  Balme Maxime.  This entire trip was fun, educational and whimsical.  The food was great and the historic sights were amazing!

In October, I was honored to return to my undergraduate institution Oberlin College for the OA4 (Oberlin Association of African American Alumni) reunion.  It was amazing to see classmates that I had not seen since commencement. To be able to reminisce while walking the campus and getting reconnected to the college that served as the foundation for my path in social services was almost surreal.

Also in October, I had the chance to travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, for The International Congress of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE). Not only were the workshops well presented, but I was blessed to meet my colleagues who work in other parts of the world.  Staff and board members from other LBFE chapters — Madrid, Barcelona, Romania, France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Ireland and the U.S. — were able to meet and share best practices for working with isolated elders.

THEATRE

In mid October, I attended The  Court Theatre’s (Chicago) production of “Gem of the Ocean” written by renowned playwright August Wilson.  Wilson wrote The Century Cycle plays (one for every decade from the 1900s to 1990s), and after having seen this production, I can proudly say I have seen all 10 of Wilson’s masterpieces.

NEW RESTAURANTS

I, along with five “This I Do For Me” participants, experienced an absolutely delectable meal at Francessa’s on Taylor in September, and at Pizza Capri and Chant, in October.

READING

In September, I read the seminal work “The Sisters Are Alright” — a must read that examines the stereotypes that plague African American women. The author Tamara Winfrey Harris did a beautiful job with this book.  Also, “Leave Your Nets” written by mystic Joel Goldsmith was devoured by me in October.

MUSIC

In October, I saw the musical phenom Cecilie McLorin Salvant in concert, and immediately following the concert, I purchased her latest CD entitled “For One to Love.” I am also listening to “Live in Cuba” by The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Lets see what November holds!

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest .

#thisidoforme.com

The Ultimate Travel Companion: Volunteering — By Kweli Kitwana, Guest Blogger

Standard
  • For years, I’ve dreamed about taking a volunteer vacation.
    Volunteer vacations are called many things, including service vacations, international volunteering, volunteer travel, working vacations, gap year travel and volunteering abroad. No matter what they are called, I always knew this was something I wanted to do. Going someplace with a unique purpose is just in my blood. Don’t get me wrong, I love exotic vacations on beaches, enjoying fine dining and taking in the local sights. However, experiences of cultural immersion is an exciting honor aligned with my personal need to get involved, connect with people and hopefully, leave a footprint in someone else’s life.

    6470545_1445921971.8287_funddescription

    Kweli Kitwana

    West Africa has been on my travel bucket list for some time.  I have always looked to Africa for personal reflection and creative inspiration. For my entire life, I could never pass up the opportunity to immerse myself in West African culture, spirituality, politics or arts. Knowing I’d end up there at some point, I wanted to choose my path to get there carefully.

In about a week from now, I am leaving for Ghana.  Recently, I heard that SISTAWorks was seeking a volunteer willing to go to Bogatonga, Ghana (and, surrounding rural villages) on short notice for about four weeks. SISTAWorks, a nonprofit, has as its mission to see more of Ghana’s adolescent village girls through high school, instead of languishing as menial laborers in city markets. Empowering these young women is an essential step in breaking the cycle of poverty in rural African communities. These girls would not be able to attend high school without the scholarships and support they receive directly from SISTAWorks.

Students at work in Bogatoga, Ghana

Students at work in Bogatoga, Ghana

I will be meeting these girls and their families, selecting the Scholars for the upcoming school year, providing training, and collecting/distributing their education supplies and resources to them. It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m up for the challenge.

This opportunity has been “in the works” for some time– you see, life’s opportunities are always waiting for us.

Over 10 years ago, I bought a beautiful quilt from Baba Blankets to support an African Collective, thus giving economically marginalized girls an opportunity to change their lives via education. While on a business trip in Denver, Colorado, I attended the Annual African American Art Fair. I was especially drawn to a beautiful exhibit of colorful quilts with the most familiar patterns. E. Aminata Brown, the vendor and Founder of Baba Blankets, explained that these quilts “are the exceptional work of our girls in Ghana seeking to advance their opportunities through sewing and education.”

It was this experience which inspired me to revisit my own family’s tradition of quilting — particularly my Grandma and Mama’s loving creations handed down and gifted throughout the years to our family and friends. This interest eventually led me to quilting and designing over 300 fabric designs celebrating African American culture, tradition and history, along with the creation of my online business “African American Fabrics.”

Well, here I am — full circle… I am now, honored to spend a month volunteering with Sista Works. If you know me, you know I am filled with the enlightenEd possibilities of this gift. The gift to learn from and dare to receive continued inspiration, while making a sustainable difference in girls lives is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Please take a moment and visit their website. Hopefully, you will even be inspired to make a donation to them!!
www.sistaworks.org

Or, you can help support my volunteer trip specifically by donating to my Go Fund Me campaign.

www.gofundme.com/KweliToGhana