traveling

Extremely low: NYC to Kenya for only $350 round-trip

H/T The Flight Deal on this amazing deal.

Kenya Airways is offering a major sale to Nairobi for dates spanning throughout 2019. Find your dates through the ITA Matrix, and then book on Delta’s website. The folks at TFD kindly put together a link you can use to plug in your dates. You must follow the directions exactly in order to get the low fare.

No word on whether this is an error fare or just an extremely low sale, or whether Kenya/Delta will honor the flights but this is reminiscent of the Etihad Airways glitch fare sale to Abu Dhabi that sent hundreds of folks around the world in 2015.

As with all error fares, book now while you still have the opportunity to do so. These dirt cheap prices won’t last.

If you book — let me know!

'Travel isn’t always pretty': Life lessons from Anthony Bourdain

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
— Anthony Bourdain, “No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach”

The travel community and the world at large lost an icon on Friday. Anthony Bourdain, the host of CNN's "Parts Unknown," was found dead in his hotel room in France after an apparent suicide. 

During the weekend, people in the travel community reflected on Bourdain's legacy of not "Columbus-ing" other cultures and for always keeping it real. The former is essential -- Bourdain frequently chopped it up at the Waffle House and in kitchens in Hong Kong -- but the latter is what I want to talk about.

Bourdain said in "No Reservations" that traveling isn't always pretty. Curated Instagram posts and YouTube vlogs may make us feel otherwise, but Bourdain was correct. It isn't always pretty. In fact, at times it can be downright nasty.

I'm thinking back to a trip I took some time ago. I planned the trip almost a year in advance. I did my due diligence and made sure I registered with the State Department before leaving. I thought I was about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. But when I got on the ground, it all fell apart. And when I say fell apart, I mean that the entire trip blew up in my face. Without going too much into specifics, I'll say that the trip involved a lot of tears, broken glass, and the strange feeling that I was being watched. 

That's the ugly side of traveling. It's the side no one tells you about -- of ruined plans and feeling like your life could potentially be in danger. I'm guilty of romanticizing trips myself. I'm guilty of using a lot of Instagram filters and posting dozens of hashtags of me in front of tourists spots faking like I'm having a good time.

It's been some time since that trip, and I'm still affected by it. It made me look at people differently. I lost some friends but got closer to others. I lost a lot of money. I'll even say that trip changed the way I approach traveling. 

But one of the upsides to the trip was that I got to connect with the local culture and people more. That trip, filled with heartache as it was, took me out of my comfort zone more than anything. It also taught me a crucial life lesson that I don't have to make everything look pretty for other people's sake. 

Rest, Anthony. And thank you. 

13 hours in Brussels, as told by Instagram

Brussels, Belgium

I'm back from my brief Europe trip. I ate well, drank well, and took great photos. More on that later.

When I booked my flight in early January, I added a free stopover to my itinerary for a quick day trip. I had the option of having a stopover in Geneva, Zurich, Munich, or Brussels. I figured I'd be bored in Geneva and Zurich, and I'd been to Germany before, so I decided on Brussels.

I got into Zaventem airport around 6:30 a.m., and after waiting in the passport control line, I was finally out of the airport.

I did the smart thing and checked my bag at JFK airport through to my final destination in Barcelona, so I didn't have to lug it around during the day.

After leaving the airport, I hopped in a cab to the city center, which is Grand Place. It was still pretty early and dark outside and few people were outside. There was a light drizzle and still quite cold, so I decided to get a cheap room at L'hôtel La Madeleine for a few hours to shower, nap, and kill some time before starting the day. I got up around 11:30 am feeling refreshed and ready to explore.

My French isn't great, but most people in the city spoke fluent English. Basic conversational words in French are always helpful, however, and people will appreciate you knowing a few simple words.

Here's how I spent the short trip.


Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert


My first stop was at the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. It's a cool indoor shopping market with a few chocolatiers, shopping, and other eateries.

It was still early, but couples and young families were making their way through the gallery in the leisurely way I soon found was commonplace throughout Europe.

It's a beautiful market. If you're an architecture geek like me, you'll appreciate how pretty it is. It's light-filled and makes for great photos. 


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The Royal Palace of Brussels


The Royal Palace!

I took a hop-on-hop-off bus to get here, which was a waste of time because I almost completely bypassed this place. It's across the street from a park and very, very pretty.
 

 

 

 

 


Grand Place


In the heart of Brussels, lies the central square of the city, Grand Places. Grand Place houses the Town Hall, and the King's House, a Hard Rock Cafe, and unsurprisingly, a beer museum. 

It's completely closed to traffic, so my Uber driver dropped me a few blocks away. There were tourists and locals milling about, taking photos and chasing after their children.

I was awestruck by how beautiful the buildings were. Again, I'm obsessed with nice architecture. According to UNESCO, many of the buildings date back to the 17th century. 

A group of Boy Scouts were running around in shorts even though it was chilly in the city. I grabbed a coffee and some chocolate and took a bunch of pictures. By this point it had started to drizzle again so I decided to find a place to buy a waffle.


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Ate a waffle


I stopped briefly at La Rose Blanche, a tavern-style restaurant. I wasn't particularly hungry, but I felt like I could leave Brussels without at least ordering a waffle.

The waffle was crispy and came drizzled with hot chocolate and ice cream, complete with a side of whipped cream. I was pretty satisfied. 


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Parc du Cinquantenaire


My last stop was at the Parc du Cinquantenaire. The Cinquantenaire was built at the request of King Leopold II, who wanted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence.

When I arrived, there was some kind of event for Volkswagen going on, as I saw all kind of cars, beetles, trucks, and vans parked beside the arch. 

Despite the cold weather, I was struck by how colorful and green the park was. The park is surrounded by a busy highway but it felt peaceful just strolling through the park and under the arch.


Back to the airport


13 hours in Brussels and over a day of traveling later, I headed back to Brussels Airport to catch my connecting flight to Barcelona. All in all, a good day and a great use of a stopover.

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17 hour flight? No big deal! 3 tips for surviving long-haul flights

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Plenty of people hate flying. We want to get to our destination, but there's a way to enjoy the journey as well. 

I tend to take a big trip at least once a year -- and that requires me to be on a plane for an extended amount of time. I've flown to Abu Dhabi (non-stop), Kuala Lumpur, and Johannesburg, among other locations. Long-hauls can be tough, but I think I have created a system that works. Below are a few tips to survive your next long flight, and how to arrive at your final destination not looking so jet-lagged. 

Dress comfortably. Wear loose clothing and layers
I can't stress this enough. I don't care about looking cute on long-hauls. I'm in Adidas track pants, a hoodie, and flip-flops. I wear compression socks to minimize the risk of deep-vein thrombosis, which can be fatal. Because space is at a premium, especially when flying economy, I try to be as comfortable as possible.

Planes can be really warm or freezing cold. Rarely have I been on a long flight that was room temperature. I wear layers that can be put on or taken off easily. I usually wear a loose, long-sleeve shirt and a hoodie to maximize comfort.

Don't tire yourself out before a long flight
I know people who try to tire themselves before long-flights believing that they can just sleep during the flight. It might work for them, but I haven't had much luck. Every time I arrive to a flight dead tired, I get maybe an hour or so of sleep during the flight. That means my jet lag is brutal when I arrive at my destination. 

Two days before I depart, I try to sync my body to the time of my destination. Example: Johannesburg is seven hours ahead of D.C., so if it's 10:00p JNB time I try to be in bed by 3:00p D.C. time. It's weird, but it's worked for me!

Hydrate and eat healthy foods
Planes are notorious for serving foods high in sodium. I always pick my meal when I book the flight to ensure that I get a low-sodium meal. Plane food isn't usually great, but low-sodium meals usually come with fruit. 

It can be easy to make a pit-stop at the airport shop and buy $30 worth of junk food. I shy away from salty and overly sweet foods when flying. There's nothing worse than feeling uneasy or ill on a flight when there's no way to get off. I opt for salt-free pretzels and lots of water. Water is your friend!

 

'It's the northernmost Caribbean city'

My boy Clinton & I at  Peaches Records  in Uptown New Orleans.

My boy Clinton & I at Peaches Records in Uptown New Orleans.

My life in D.C. has been outta pocket lately, so it felt good to escape #thistown for a few days. This year's National Association of Black Journalists conference was in New Orleans, and I was determined not to miss it. I'd never been to New Orleans (save for a brief overnight stop en route to Las Vegas when I was eight) and I wanted to eat, drink, be merry and meet other dope journalists. 

NABJ this year was pretty cool. It got a lot of publicity for other reasons, but it's always great to see old heads that I admire, and young heads just starting out in the industry. This is my fourth year going to the conference and it's been amazing to watch the growth of myself and my crew over the years. 

When I got to New Orleans, I was worried about the weather situation. There were reports of heavy rain and flooding. The morning after I landed, it was raining pretty badly and I just hung out at the conference hotel all day.

The next day, the weather cleared significantly and after spending some time networking and recruiting for work, I was ready to try the food scene. And baaaaby, let me tell you: I fell in love. That first day I had lobster macaroni and cheese. It was still boiling in the plate when the server set it on the table. It isn't an exaggeration when I say that it was so good that I wanted to cry. My homegirl remarked that she could taste the state of Maine in the lobster. It was that good.

During my time in New Orleans, I tried to eat as much as my tiny stomach would hold. I have zero regrets. I had shrimp pasta, po' boys, and beignets. Shout out to Cafe du Monde, btw. They're open 24/7 and the beignets were super cheap.

On Saturday my girls and I made our way to Meauxbar, where I had the best grits of my life – and I don't like grits. At all. My stance on grits has officially changed. The brunch was great – I had sausage and egg on a biscuit – and the bottomless mimosas were strong, with a kick.

After brunch, it was still pretty early and we wanted to explore. We made our way to Bourbon Street (I know) and ended up amongst drunken, red dress-clad revelers. There was a "Red Dress Run" earlier that day, and the runners clearly wanted celebrate. Nobody, including our Uber drivers, could tell us what charity the run benefited. Ignoring the runners, we got some frozen daiquiris
and decided to explore the area.

De crew after brunch

De crew after brunch

New Orleans is a complex city. It's a city still healing from Hurricane Katrina, and it's undergoing aggressive gentrification in parts of the city, but the residents have so much pride for the city. I saw it from the time I landed at the airport until the time I departed for D.C. 

It's a city with good food, good music and good people. I heard brass bands, listened to some bounce music, and went to the record store that gave New Orleans legends like No Limit and Cash Money their start.

My homegirl JQ said, "it's the northernmost Caribbean city," and I could feel it. It felt like my experience in Jamaica, or Havana, or Port-au-Prince. It was loud and colorful. It was warm and homey. A cab driver told me that New Orleans was unlike any city in the country. "It's like being in a whole different country," he told me.

It was a welcome change from D.C., where politeness can be hit-or-miss. The southern hospitality reminded me of back home. My cab driver, on the way back to the airport told me, "everyone down here is like this." If that's the case, I'm sure I'll be back soon.

 

How to make last minute travel plans and not break the bank

Photo by seb_ra/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by seb_ra/iStock / Getty Images

Man, listen. Sometimes you just want to get away. You're having a rough week, and it's only Tuesday. You're dreaming about a beach, or the woods, or any other place not where you're currently at.

Scenario:
You decide on a location, and you're looking for flights and a hotel. The prices freak you out, and you almost decide to just kick it at home. But before putting a pause in those last minute travel plans, here's a checklist to follow:

1. Do your Googles
I can't stress this enough. The best way to find cheap, last minute flights or hotels is through Google. Google Flights is your friend. Google Flights will save your life. Google Flights will save you hundreds of dollars. Toggle around with the dates, and if you decide to make a trip into a long weekend, do realize that you may have to fly back home on a Tuesday. Google Flights is a hassle-free way to find last minute, often dirt cheap domestic and international flights. 

For example, I want some sun and am desperate to get out of D.C. for a few days. Today is July 23. I found a round-trip, one stop flight to Cabo for July 29-August 1. It's well-known that some flights actually decrease in price the closer you get to the date, so this is a good strategy if you're a procrastinator. Not too shabby for a last-minute, international trip. 

2. Peak times are not your friend
Sometimes – you may be able to fly out on Friday and come back on a Sunday or early Monday in time for work. Most time however, you'll probably have to fly on days or hours not considered ideal. When I went to L.A. in May, my return flight was cheaper because I was fine with flying back to the East Coast at 11:00 pm. Unfortunately I had a layover in Chicago, but slept on the LAX-CHI flight, landed in D.C., and went straight into work. 

3. Yes, you might have to fly Spirit (or Frontier)
Spirit, and to a lesser extent Frontier, get a bad rep. It's understandable. They're late, crowded and generally unfriendly. Yeah, your flight will probably land late, but if you aren't pressed for time and don't care about not getting snacks on flights, this might be the best, economically-friendly bet for you.

4. You ain't staying at the Intercontinental, shawty. But you can find something nice (or nicer) on Airbnb
You don't get to be picky on last minute trips – mostly. I was picky on my L.A. trip and landed in a great housing situation because of AirBnB. If you're open to house sharing sites like AirBnb, you may end up with a gem that's better than a traditional hotel.

It's possible to book last minute travel and not stretch the limits of your budget. But flexibility is key. Play around with some dates and locations, and see what you can find.
 

4 incredible infinity pools around the world

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Summer's on its way – the weather is improving and people are planning their summer getaways. There's nothing that inspires VIEWS (a la, Drake) than sipping mimosas in an infinity pool hundreds of feet in the air. 

1. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

The Marina Bay Sands brands itself as the world's largest rooftop infinity pool – and with good reason. The pool overlooks Singapore from 57 stories above ground. 

2. Hanging Gardens of Bali, Bali

This resort boasts of having the world's "best swimming pool." Nestled in the Ubud region of the resort island, the pool has been named “The World’s Best Swimming Pool” by Condé Nast Traveler. 

3. FACE Suites, Kuala Lumpur

I've been here! The photo at the top of the post is from FACE in May 2016. The FACE infinity pool overlooks downtown KL, with breathtaking views of the Twin Towers and mountains in the distance. There are a couple of infinity pools in Kuala Lumpur, but the view from this pool is unbeatable.

4. Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, Arizona

This sprawling infinity pool has breathtaking views of Arizona's Camelback Mountain.