I. HATE. PACKING. I really do. I can never decide what I want to bring and I always end up leaving something important or not bringing enough of something. The story of my traveling life. So in an effort to alleviate some of my stress I created “The HGB Packing List” to make sure I pack everything I need for any trip.

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In addition to the packing list, I will also share some packing tips that will help prevent overpacking with all of these baggage fees.

1. Use travel size toiletries- I know when traveling you want to feel like you are at home, but full-size products are very bulky. Buy travel size items or the travel size bottles from places like the $.99. I pour my full size products into the smaller bottles when traveling. Use ziploc bags to keep all of your toiletries together.

2. Don’t pack what is already there. Make sure your hotel has the amenities to make packing easier. So things like a blowdryer and iron aren’t needed.

3. Be strategic of what goes in your carry-on. Do not put in your luggage that you check important things like medication and important documents (passport, credit cards, etc). That should be in your carry-on. In my carry-0n I always pack an extra outfit and my toiletries and other essentials like my contact lenses and solution, just incase the airline loses my luggage.

4. Pack things that are multipurpose. Before I would pack a different pair of shoes for each outfit. I don’t think that is necessary for me any more. Especially since I don’t want to lug around heavy bags.

5. Pack in layers. Roll your clothes and stack them in layers. This will save space as opposed to folding. If you are really trying to save space, do the bundle method. Check out this video here

What are some of your packing tips?

In less than one week I will embark on a 13-hour flight to the UAE. If you couldn’t tell before, I am super excited! I’ve been doing lots of research for my trip and decided to look into some apps to download. First, I must say, PLEASE BE SURE TO CALL YOUR WIRELESS PROVIDER TO FIND OUT THE FEES ASSOCIATED WITH INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL. Yes I had to put that in caps. There is nothing worse then coming back to home and getting a phone bill for hundreds of dollars because you did not find out about those fees. I don’t plan on making any calls during my trip so my app game must be on point so that I can stay in contact with my family in case of emergency. I will be disabling my data and using strickly wi-fi because it is free and I won’t be charged for anything.

So after doing a little research and playing around with the apps (some of them I use already) here are are 5 apps that you should download before your next trip. All apps are compatible with iPhones and Androids.

1. Foodspotting

travel-foodspotting

Yes I had to put a food app as number 1 because I. LOVE. TO. EAT. I can’t help it, but I love food. This app is great because it gives you pictures of food that people took nearby and the place to get it. I downloaded this app the other day and did not realize how many great restaurants are only a few miles from me!

2. TripIt

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This app is a travel organizer. I’ve already plugged in my flight and lodging plans. It keeps your trip itinerary in one location. You can do an auto-import from Gmail, Google Apps, or Yahoo Mail. It scans your email for all of your trip itineraries and adds the information for you. You can add information about car rentals, and other modes of transportation, restaurants, tours, concerts, meetings, and other activities. I’m a list/detail-oriented and I always have my information in multiple places, so this app is a life saver.

3. What’s App Messenger

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I use this app all day everyday. It is a free messaging app that can be used anywhere as long as you are connected to wi-fi. One of my line sisters (Hey Robyn) is from St. Lucia and frequently goes back home to visit and that is how we communicate because it is free. It is like sending imessages or text messages. I use it for individual chats and group chats with my family and friends.

4. Globe Converter

travel-converter

This app is a quick tool to convert your money. I’m sure it will be ok to use USD, but some people may try to cheat you. Use the converter to make sure you are paying the right price for items at markets, fairs, and also for taxis.

5. Trover

travel-trover

Similar to FoodSpotting, Trover is like the Instagram of travel. People post photos of places they have visited all over the world. All you need to do is type in your destination to see the places that people have visited and you can add that to your itinerary. I’ve already checked out the UAE on trover and a few of the places that are on their are already on my list.

Honorable Mention: Uber-

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You never know when you will need a taxi service. Uber serves over 55 countries. Check to see if your next destination is on the list.

What are some apps that you all download for your trips?

Last week I told you all that I will be going to the UAE for a little vacation in the coming weeks. In anticipation for this trip, as I do with other trips, I needed to figure out what we could do while on vacation. When I told people that I was going some were excited because they want to travel there, others were like “What are you going to do out there?” So here is your answer.

At this point in my life, I’m not all about the “turn up” anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to party and have a good time, but I also want to see the world. I’m always down for a good excursion or sightseeing. If I have the means to travel to certain places I don’t just want to be posted up with a drink in my hand, I want to experience different things. So here is what my boyfriend and I plan to do while in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This is the final version of the list. It went through many revisions because he gave me the, “babe you’re doing too much” look when he saw my first list.

1. Yas Island Ferrari World- I’m super excited to visit the place with the world’s fastest roller coaster. I probably won’t get on it lol. My tolerance for rides has decreased significantly, but there are tons of activities to do. We will probably spend a lot of time on Yas Island because there is tons to do.

yasisland

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World

Ferrari World

2. Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque- This is the largest mosque in the UAE and took nine years to build. The late president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wanted to create a place that united the cultural diversity of the Islamic world.

Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

3. Gold and Spice Souks- A souk is an Arab market or market place. This is where you haggle your prices. No price is definite at the souks. I think I’m more excited for the spice souk than the gold souk, because I’m starting to love experimenting with different spices in my cooking, and I can see a plethora of these spices from the Bible…I mean who wouldn’t want some  frankinsense and myrrh?? Lol, I know I can find those here in New York, but visiting the souks would definitely be aesthetically amazing.

Gold Souk

Gold Souk

Spice Souk

Spice Souk

4. Desert Safaris- Camel rides, sandboarding, henna, belly dancing, sunset bbq? Please sign me up.

Camel Riding

Camel Riding

Henna

Henna

Desert Safari

Desert Safari

5. Burj Khalifa- The tallest building in the world. I mean how can you go to Dubai and not visit this place? The observation decks are at level 124 and level 148 of the 163 story building. They have tours that typically take up to 1.5 hours.

burjkhalifa

Burj Khalifa

6. Dubai Underwater Zoo and Aquarium- Located in the Dubai Mall, it is one of the largest suspended aquarium’s in the world. It houses thousands of aquatic animals. There are a number of things you can do here including the Aquarium Tunnel, Underwater Zoo, Glass-Bottom Boat ride, fish feeding, and various dive packages including caged snorkeling.

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Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

I would also like to visit the Al Ain Palace Museum and Emirates Palace, but that’s only if there is time.

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Al Ain Palace Museum

Emirates Palace

Emirates Palace

As far as travel, we will probably take taxis most places. Taxi Fare Finder is a great website to get estimated prices for your travel without getting cheated. They give you prices with no traffic, light traffic, and heavy traffic.

Also I’ve been using the Google currency converter to convert AED prices to USD, just so I can get an idea of how much we are going to be spending.

*Keep in mind that on Fridays many places do not open until mid afternoon (around 3pm) because Fridays is known as Jumu’ah or day of prayer. That should be kept in mind when planning your vacation.*

Has anyone been to the UAE, what places did you visit?

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment- Jim Rohn

In December I set my goals for 2015, and I have to admit, it has been a rocky start. It is the first week of March and I am not where I thought I should be at this point in the year. I can’t cry over spilled milk. I just have to keep it moving. On Instagram I constantly see people meeting their goals and seeing results. I am super happy and proud of them all, especially the people that I actually know like my bestie Erica who is a meal prep goddess! I see everyone making progress and I’m just scrolling and double tapping on IG, which is not helping me meet my goals at all.

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On one of those posts from the IG_Weightl0ss page was of a woman who was my height and roughly 7-10 lbs pounds heavier than me said something that clicked with me…

“It wasn’t until my 5’4″ frame hit 160 lbs that it really clicked- our bodies are a direct reflection of our lifestyle. So I changed mine- I started exercising, eating clean, and laying off the cocktails. I started goal setting, 5 lb milestones at a time…The process has taught me the ability of the body to transform when you train and feed it with the right foods. Patience and perseverance are key in any transformation.” Source

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OUR BODIES ARE A DIRECT REFLECTION OF OUR LIFESTYLE!

Boy did that resonate with me. In order for me to see change, I have to truly change my lifestyle.

She started small with goal setting. Usually when I get on this fitness and healthy lifestyle track I try to go all in at once. That was my first mistake. Humans are creatures of habits and it takes a lot to break those bad habits. We have to make a conscious decision to break those habits by setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals. Yes SMART Goals. I need to set goals that I know will require discipline, but I will have a greater chance of success.

healthgoals3

So my first set of goals is to increase my water intake (At least 6 glasses daily-It is a struggle for 4) and minimize the amount of times I eat out per week. Last week I ate out at least 4 times, and I want to bring that number down 1. Sometimes I get lazy and don’t want to cook, or I don’t want to eat what I did cook. I need to get over that. Also, I just need to increase drink more period. It’s not like I’m drinking juice or soda, I’m just not drinking anything at all, and that is a problem.

Next week I’ll report back on my progress. Do you set fitness and health goals?

How do you stay on track?

Hey my loves!

I know the last time I wrote a post I said that I was back to blogging because I finished school, and guess what that wasn’t the case. I know I said I was in the process of moving and I would still blog, but I didn’t. I am a woman of my word, so don’t hold my lack of consistency against me, but A LOT has changed since I last wrote that post. So here it goes…

Life Updates

  1. I got a new job. Well this isn’t just a job, I am advancing in my career as an educator. This year would have been my 9th year as a teacher, but God had a different plan. I am now an AP (Assistant Principal)! How awesome is that!
  2. I moved. New place, new life, new responsibilities.
  3. This is the first season in about three years that I missed fashion week and…..I’m not bothered by missing it.

I will be 30 in less than a month and so it is time to grow up. I have a new career that requires a different level of thinking and time, and I have new responsibilities. I am no longer solely responsible for the 150 students in my classroom for my content area. I am now responsible for making sure a school is functioning; that includes supporting a teachers, operations staff, support staff, students, parents, and the community. I am now responsible for helping the principal fulfill the mission and vision of the school. I literally went from 0-100 real quick (I can’t give up my hip hop lingo lol).

growing up

Over the last year God has been pushing me in a different direction, and the things that I used to do, I don’t do anymore. I’m not referring to any type of “ratchet” behavior, that’s not me. I’m talking about what my concern and focus used to be is not the same at this point in my life. When God brings you to a new stage or level in life He expects you to act accordingly, because you have now accepted a new level of responsibility. This time last year I was probably looking at my schedule of shows for fashion week. This year my schedule does not have Lincoln Center anywhere near it. I would have been attending lounges and getting pampered and tweeting or instagramming looks straight from the runway. This year I’m revamping my professional wardrobe and not concerned with the runway because quite frankly some things do not fit my new lifestyle.

I struggled with accepting this new level of responsibility, but I know God will not give me more than I can handle. I was not expecting this change to happen so quickly although I went to school for this very reason. I’m still in shock about all that I have accomplished this year. God never ceases to amaze me. He knows exactly where He wants us, but we just need to listen to His word and follow His command. Over the last few month’s Pastor Bernard has been teaching about God’s Mediatorial Rule, which deals with God’s Rule and Presence. Under God’s rule He directs, corrects, and protects. I know that I am where I am for a reason. I know that God will never leave me or forsake me. I know that as long as I have faith the size of a mustard seed anything is possible.

So I’m finally accepting that I’m growing up. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says,

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

I am excited for this new season that I am about to enter and know that without God’s love, grace, mercy, direction, protection, and correction, I would not be where I am today. So as I continue on this journey, walking in my purpose by meeting the needs of others, I know that God is my source and without him, nothing is possible.