Tag Archives: Travelgram

RECAP OF QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES — THIS I DO FOR ME

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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;

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  • 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!

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  • 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;

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  • 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.

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

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TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 1 — Strategies on Finding Affordable Airfares!

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If you’re hell bent on traveling the world in the same old way each time you do it, these tips may not be helpful to you. What I’m sharing here is for the OPEN-MINDED traveler that is willing to explore different and unique approaches to travel.

Although I have experienced travel where I’ve stayed in top notch hotels, ate numerous gourmet meals and taken my share of spacations, I am equally at home in an AirBnB, where I can prepare my own meals and still have very nice amenities at my fingertips.

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What I would like to share with you over the course of several posts, are travel tips that allow you to travel economically thereby allowing you to maximize your dollars!

So let’s start in this post by examining a number of ways to secure deals on your flights.

I strongly feel that being flexible and not relying on one mode of securing flight arrangements, no matter how it has worked for you previously, opens you up to the best opportunity in the moment.  For example, I once found a round trip ticket to New York City for $150 USD inclusive of taxes and and all typical fees! How?  That time through a travel agent.  Ironically, that same trip was pricing out at $100 more not more than a month later.  The next time that I needed to book a trip to NYC, I searched for another travel arrangement through Travel Zoo.  Although the cost was more expensive than the $150 ticket I secured on that first example I spoke of, it was still less expensive than the instance that cost me an additional $100.  This time it cost me $177.00.

Another tactic in your air fare search arsenal is to keep your ears and eyes open on special and often unbelievable deals that the airlines offer.  For example, recently Southwest Airlines ran a 72 hour promotion for its shortest routes in the United States.  My cousin got her ticket for NYC to Atlanta for $104 round trip!  Although I purchased my ticket prior to Southwest’s special promotion, I was able to find a great deal for $222 by going directly to Delta’s website!

What about International flights? Well, I needed to get to Madrid back in June, and I found one hell of a deal from Chicago to Dublin to Madrid on Expedia for $893.72.  For this flight, I had a seven hour layover in Dublin (going to Madrid), and although I had a 17 hour layover in Dublin (on the return to Chicago), I had enough time to experience some of this fun Irish city! I met some great people, hung out on O’Connell Street had had a fantastic meal, along with  beer at a local pub — The Temple Bar!

This mini excursion gave me enough to know that I would like to return for a longer visit. I have never had a layover that long, but I made the most of it by not spending it in the airport.

Dublin has a wonderfully vibrant airport with over 200 businesses, eateries, chocolatiers, perfumeries and designer stores.

NOTE:  Literally two minutes ago, a notification from TRIP Advisor came up n my feed informing me of an airfare for $734 from Oakland to Madrid (as you have probably guessed, I love Madrid)!  Now that is a deal.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT FLIGHT RESOURCES

The following are search options that I have not only researched when looking for a good fight price, but these sites have produced for me some results at wonderful prices:

Fareness.com — Where should I go in April for the best flight destination?  This site offers a wide range of destinations and travel periods (e.g. check where to travel to from October to February) and receive immediate results highlighting the lowest air fares. Then you can build the rest of your vacation based what is most economical for you versus making that decision based on locale only;

Yapta.com — A very underutilized resource — tracks pricing for millions of flights worldwide allowing you (like Fareness.com) to first pick a travel spot, then creating your activities around that.

The Flightdeal.com — Targeting flights to cities that are six cents or less per mile — Chicago, Seattle, NYC, Baltimore, Philly, D.C., Portland, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco!

Airfarewatchdog.com — The airlines reduce airfares daily, but they don’t advertise them. This site notifies you of fare glitches and/or bargains.

Expedia.com — I have had really good success with this site.  If you don’t mind layovers (sometimes long ones), Expedia can become your best friend! You can find really good deals, and you can access by internet or telephone agents.

In summary, here are the things you must be willing to do to snag great deals:

  •     Search Often;
  •     Sign Up for Email Alerts;
  •     Use Twitter;
  •     Use Priceline for Last Minute Trips;
  •     Combine Two Separate Fares Versus Booking One Fare (can be cheaper)

To utilize my consulting services on economical trip planning, please contact me at robin@thisidoforme.com

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Wanna Join Me in Greece?!?!

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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!

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THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME MONTHLY PHOTO CONTEST!

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So here we go!

This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) wants YOU to submit a photo for its monthly “Photo of the Month” contest, and we will post the month’s selection on my blog http://www.thisidoforme.wordpress.com

 

Criteria:  The photo should highlight some form of caring for others, self-care or care of the environment.  Caring is the central theme!

After the twelfth month, we will select the photo of the year, and the winner will receive a $100.00 card from the contest’s sponsor!  Contest requirements will be shared later.

We at TIDFM are excited because the world needs more CARE and CARING, and you can show it how its done!  We look forward to receiving your photos

I’M NOT OLD –I’M JUST GETTING STARTED!

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NEW BLOG POST!

Let’s face it, once you reach age 50+, all types of beliefs and images crop up about the exciting part of our lives being over, dead, kaputz.  However, it is at this stage of my life that I, like so many other women at this point, feel more alive than ever!

I feel truly free to try new things without worrying about their outcome!  I can do something for the sheer enjoyment of it, and as soon as I scratch it off my list after completing it, I feel confident and emboldened to add to the list and sample something else!

My daringness extends even further!   Trying new recipes –Italian, Mexican, Thai and even Vegan!  Through cooking I get to expand my creativity and expand my horizons about other cultures, and when I actually get to travel to a country where the recipes emanates from, I am on cloud 9!

I’m also taking a photography class with a group of young women half my age — there are days where I walk away feeling empowered, and there are days when I ask myself during the class “why am I here?” or where I swallow a regular dose of “I’m too old to get this.” However, I put my big girl panties on and keep it moving.  I won’t give up, I tell you!

Over the past year, I’ve created a new business that serves women age 50+. This endeavor allows me to bring all that I’ve learned, experienced, seen and dreamed about to others to share.  I’m not focused on being perfect, but on perfectly expressing myself for my own fulfillment.

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I’m traveling more now than at any other stage of my life! Sometimes I think “you should have been doing all this whirlwind travel in your twenties and thirties!”  Then I take a deep breath and add more countries and cities to my list. I’m just getting reved up!  Croatia, Prague, Maldives and Tanzania– all places now on my list once I turned 50+!

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I now think with greater clarity; I express myself in a firm manner, and I feel at a much deeper level — all of this after I turned 50.

I am engaging in new things all of the time, and my excitement when planning new experiences is unparalleled.  I get extremely enthused when I think about all the new possibilities for my life.

I only hope that after reading this, you are also propelled to live your life OUT LOUD!

DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Musings on a Helicopter Tour and Being Daring at 50+ Years Old!

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NEW BLOG POST!

Recently, at a conference I attended in California, I met Katie Wilks, a representative from the travel and ticketing resource company Mighty Mongoose. This company has developed a reputation for offering exciting and fun ways to explore major cities across America through a wide range of attractions, tours and events.

After being given the opportunity as a blogger to experience one of their tours, I set out to select something different  — something that I wouldn’t ordinarily position myself to do.  I could have picked any one of their great offerings — a Walking Italian Food Tour, The Botanic Gardens (I’ve never visited there) and several trolley and bus tours. Although these were all packaged nicely, the one that stood out was The Helicopter Tour of Downtown Chicago. It was as if neon lights encircled it.

I have wanted to do something daring for quite some time!  When I was a child, I vowed that I would be a skydiver when I grew up.  I was that kid who was always enamored with people who were mountain climbers or something that had an element of risk.

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Photo: We (that’s me on the left) are in the cabin of the “copter”

Now, I must admit — I had to give taking advantage of this helicopter excursion a second thought.  After all, when I first dreamed of skydiving, I was a kid.  Now I’m a 50+ woman, who likes daring, but with caution. After I did due diligence, but more importantly after I thought about how I would feel if I didn’t go on the ride, I said yes!!!  I’m at that stage in life where I don’t want to let fear hold me back — it’s now or never!

Mighty Mongoose was gracious enough to allow me to bring a guest along for this exciting opportunity, so I ran a “Can You Guess My Favorite American City Contest” on my  This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) Facebook Page!

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Twanda Gates of Milwaukee, Wisconsin guessed correctly — San Francisco!  Love that city!  Twanda, like me, loves to travel, and even more ironic, she has a bucket list of things to experience and a helicopter ride was on it!

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I just love when a plan comes together, especially when it involves playing a role in helping to bring someone’s dream to fruition.

Upon arrival at Chicago’s premier helicopter tour company Rotorzen, located at 1339 S. Wood Street,  we were given an orientation by its professional staff.  We were given an overview of the helicopter that we would ride in and the iconic Chicago sites we would see.  We then met the man of the hour — our experienced pilot, Travis, who would guide us on this excursion! By the way, Rotorzen operates out of the largest heliport in North America.

As we took off on Saturday, September 10, 2016, at 2:30 p.m., I and Twanda took a deep breath, then relaxed long enough to enjoy a new experience.

It’s one thing to see The Willis Tower, Millennium Park, The Hancock Building, Museum Campus, Soilder Field, Navy Pier, Trump Tower and even Lincoln Park Zoo all on ground level, but to see these well known sites well above 1,000 feet, is awe-inspiring.  All I could keep thinking was “I AM ACTUALLY DOING THIS!”

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TIDFM contest winner Twanda Gates put it this way, “The helicopter ride was such an exhilarating experience.  The pilot was personable and professional, and he was an excellent tour guide. Thanks to TIDFM and the excursion sponsor Mighty Mongoose for my first helicopter tour.”

As I reflect on this wonderful day, I can’t help but to feel encouraged by the fact that just because you’re 50+ years old, your dreams (both postponed or denied) can still manifest.

Too many times we look at situations and opportunities from the view point that we are way too old to try something new and daring.  We feel it’s too late, so we over enmesh ourselves  in other things and other people to compensate for our fear.  This is not healthy.  We want a balance between doing our thing and assisting others to do theirs.

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Too many times we say we are going to do something after we lose some weight, or after the kids are off to college or some other moment in time.  The time is now! Stop putting things off and LIVE!

Make a list of those things you want to do, do them, and add new items to the list on a regular basis. You will be amazed at yourself.

Thank you Mighty Mongoose and Rotorzen Tours for playing a role in me living my dreams.

 

All Photos Were Taken by Robin Tillotson and Twanda Gates

 

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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PHOTO ABOVE:  Me enjoying Indoor Skydiving!