Flights for $11.20 : Trips to Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston & Las Vegas

Every flight that you take matters! Whether you fly once a week, once a month or once a quarter, each of those flights can equate to opportunities for future flights. You may be wondering…How is that possible? Well here’s how, every airline offers a rewards program for buying tickets through their company. Those reward points equate differently for every airline, however if you’re loyal to using an airline more frequently than others, you SHOULD definitely be enrolled in their program. 

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I am a faithful Southwest Airlines customer for a few reasons – 1) No baggage fees 2) Consistent good service 3) Flight availability to cities that I frequent. Consistently using Southwest as my #1 choice afforded me the chance to accumulate enough points to cover 3 flights in 2018 and 2 additional flights booked for 2019. And I’m here to tell you that I only paid $11.20 for each of these flights! (The $11.20 is the total amount roundtrip, including taxes)

You’re probably thinking about all of the flights that you’ve taken and all of the points that you haven’t accumulated…. Don’t fret! You can start today!!

 

 

So here’s a few steps to help you get on your way to your next nearly free trip. 

  1. Download the mobile apps for each airline that you use
  2. Sign Up & enroll in the rewards program (Southwest – Rapid Rewards, United – Mileage Plus, American Airlines – AAdvantage)
  3. Read about the specific airlines rewards program, so that you don’t miss out on how to leverage your points. 
  4. Sporadically check the app for promotions- For example: Southwest may offer double rewards if you book a flight between X date to Z date. Or, they may offer A-List status upgrade if you book a flight within that month
  5. VERY IMPORTANT: When searching for flights through third party websites, take a moment to see if the actual airline is offering the same price, if so BUY on the airlines website so that you can gain your points.
  6. If you can, maximize your travel with one specific airline to boost your rewards points faster. As mentioned above, this is exactly what I did with Southwest, which worked to my advantage.
  7. Sit back and allow your points to accumulate. You can use them at any point throughout the year, by selecting points vs. $.

 

 

 

**Similar to how flight prices vary dependent upon time of day and # of stops, you will see the same variance when viewing for rewards points. **

 

Happy traveling my friends, and just a reminder Don’t forget to shine!

 

No Diggity…..No Doubt!

Have you ever doubted yourself? Doubted your ability? Doubted your strength? Doubted your decisions? How did you overcome that doubt?
These questions represent a tug of war I recently faced between fear/doubt & confidence/faith. Many of you have probably seen the acronym, F.E.A.R (False Evidence Appearing Real) and although I believe this to be true, my most recent task made all of the evidence appear to be very Truthful and quite intimidating. My most recent task was in obtaining my Series 7 – Registered Representative License, which involved taking a 6 hour long, 250 question exam.
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I have always been the type of person to take on new ways to challenge myself and this by far was the Mt. Everest of all goals I’ve ever aimed to achieve. The preparation for this exam required a solid 7 week self- study plan with over 300+ Hours of study time. What truly made this nerve-wrecking and where the doubt began to kick in was when I received my study materials, in which this is not an exaggeration….Imagine receiving a few encyclopedias and being told everything is important to know and is testable. I had to truly tap into my inner – college study skills and hone in on the information presented. I’ll be honest, my 1st reaction was, “what did I sign myself up for?” My 2nd reaction, “how am I gonna be able to do this?” And then my 3rd delayed reaction, “I’ve got this!” This sequence of reactions occurred throughout my entire study period.
One thing that I know for certain is that God will never put on us more than we can bear, nor will he lead us into a direction to fail. If He opened the door, He definitely wants us to make it through it. So how did I overcome the doubt of exceeding? Dedication, determination & depending on God. I’d like to share how God showed me signs along the way that this was His plan and how it turned my doubt into faith.
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About 2-3 weeks into studying, I began to feel overwhelmed with the materials so I opted to purchase a supplemental resource to support off of Amazon. I decided to purchase a used book, since it would only be for a temporary period of time. Once I received it, I did not have much time to incorporate it into my schedule, as I had a study plan that I was following to complete other topics. One day, as I was wrapping up my studies for the evening, a bookmark fell out of the used book that I had purchased. Here’s what the bookmark read, “GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE!”
I let out the deepest sigh and shed a couple tears as I saw this message. Imagine receiving such a profound confirmation as you’re questioning your Why, frustrated about a challenging topic, and simply overwhelmed. This was the first sign that I knew I was on the right path and that I had to start trusting the process and trusting God to guide me through it.
Reading this bookmark became a daily task to set my mind and nerves at ease. In addition, I began to repeat affirmations daily, such as, “I’ve got this!” “I Am intelligent!” “I Am a conqueror!” “I Am an achiever!” “I am walking in purpose!” Talk about being your own hype woman, I had to do it!
Fast forward to a few days before my exam, (3 days prior to be exact) I had a scheduled call to review a topic with an instructor. The purpose of this call was 100% to discuss this topic, mind you I do not know the person on the other side of the phone. Let’s just say, God sends signs not only visually, however also verbally! Our conversation began with the instructor talking about how she had the week off, so she had time to answer all of my questions in preparation for the exam. It then transitioned to her asking me, “Shyla do you believe in John 3:16?” My immediate response was, “ABSOLUTELY!” She proceeded to ask, “Did you recently get baptized in the last year or so?” At this point, my jaw dropped, ears perked and my eyes were wide as I had taken the step to be re-baptized at the beginning of the year. She then shared, “I’m not sure why, but God wants me to tell you that He is pleased! Continue to shine your light so that others can see!” And 30 minutes later after us both sharing our journeys with Christ, and crying, we made it to the original purpose of the call, which by that point wasn’t even needed. I took this message as God’s way of saying, SHYLA, STOP Worrying, I’ve got you and I’m proud of you! God truly places His angels everywhere, we only recognize it if we’re paying attention.
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So It’s now game day (TEST Day) And yes I am still nervous, anxious and truly hoping for the best. After completing the first half of the exam, I resorted back to doubt, not feeling as confident in myself and what I did, but I knew I had the 2nd Half of the exam to come back to and complete. I headed over to the cafe in the building to grab some food to give my brain and body energy to make it through. And I had a simple order, a croissant sandwich and two drinks. I truly cannot make this up…. my order total was $7.77! The number 7 in the Bible, represents the number of completion. (I could spend more time on this, but I highly encourage you to seek to understand why this # represents completion) All I could say was, “WOW!” I’ve always known for God to send signs, but my goodness HE showed up and showed out to ensure that I did not fail and doubt myself.
The restaurant owner/cashier, thanked me for coming in and said, “It was just what I needed because I was having a really bad day and seeing that reminded me that I have a lot to be grateful for.” God used me to be his blessing, while the cashier had no idea that God used him and his restaurant to be my blessing. At this point, I stepped out of the restaurant, prayed and thanked God for staying with me and once again reminding me that “It’s complete and He is pleased!”

6 Hours later…. I PASSED!!! 

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This Journey taught me how important it is to ensure that My faith become greater than my fears. It also reminded me that:
1) God is always there, just sometimes we forget that
2) He will never, ever put on us more than we can bear
3) He answers prayers, however it’s on us to recognize, identify and accept the answer He gives us
No matter what the task, trip, job, or experience is that you are pursuing, Remember Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Thank you for reading my testimony of how God helped turn my doubt into confidence, I pray that He continues to provide you clarity and discernment in all that you do.
God Bless!
Don’t forget to Let your light SHINE!!
Shyla
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2018 Travel Goals

 

How is April already almost over? If you’re somewhat like me (a travel addict) at this point in the year you probably have already hit at least one place that was on your travel bucket list. My kickstart was delayed as I spent the 1st half of the year focused on my health and wellness. And if you’ve traveled anywhere, one of the most intriguing parts about new Cities, States or Countries is the opportunity to indulge in the foods that they are famous for. So because I know my weaknesses, staying local during the 1st quarter helped me to stay on target to achieve my fitness goals. But on to the purpose of this post…. although I may have taken a hiatus from hopping on the plane, that did not halt me from planning out the majority of my summer.

One of my goals for 2018 is to exceed the number of Countries I visited in 2017 by doubling it. In 2017, I traveled to 3 Countries (Italy, Greece & Mexico), so I figured doubling that would be financially realistic and achievable considering the amount of vacation time I have available. So, I’d like to share with you a few of the places that I currently have planned to visit along with some places that are on my bucket list for 2018. In addition, I’ll give you a little insight on how I captured some amazing flight deals to these destinations!

Currently scheduled:

  • Honolulu, HI – $282 Round Trip
  • Tulum, Mexico – $123 Round Trip
  • Mexico City, Mexico – $200 Round Trip
  • Belize City, Belize – $315 Round Trip
  • Washington D.C.
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Miami, FL

Bucket List:

  • Spain
  • Nigeria
  • Cuba
  • Thailand
  • Colombia
  • Jamaica

This list could certainly continue,  but I’d be thrilled to visit any combination of these Countries listed above by end of year.

I bet you’re wondering, how in the world did you find such affordable flights?? Well, I’ll tell you that the only time I travel to a different Country or State is if I can capture a “flight deal.” My motto for traveling on a budget is, “Buy now, plan later!” There is not a feeling worse than missing a deal, I promise you that as it has happened a few times. For example, there was a Round trip deal to South Africa for $450. Yes! You read that right, $450! And I hesitated and waited as I tried to gather a group of friends that could go…. and as time progressed, the tickets creeped right back up to over $800. So safe to say I learned my lesson from that experience. I promise you it will all work out in the end, with the “Buy it now, plan later” mentality. (If you have anxiety about making that type of purchase, just include travel insurance into your purchase) I do this because these deals typically only last for 24-48 hours before reverting back to their original or typical cost. So, when you see it, find a date that works for YOU and book it!

So here’s a little insight into how I search for and find deals….

These websites below are my Favorites:

Fare Deal Alert

Targets deals from Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, plus more

The Flight Deal

Targets deals from NYC, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Miami, plus more

Google Flights

Grants you access to prices to any destination at any time

I visit these sites religiously to find deals that can work for my schedule. I highly encourage you to use these websites in an effort to save $$$.

This summer cannot come soon enough as my severe diagnosis of WANDERLUST has kicked into full effect! Can’t wait to share more posts this summer about what I do on each of these trips!

More than anything, please share your travel goals for 2018 and any tips for the places that I am visiting in the comments below!!

Also, if you have some aspirations for trips that you’d like to take, however you need a little guidance on how to save some money on travel…let me know and I’d be happy to share a few tips that I’ve learned along the way!

Keep SHINING Friends 🙂

Wanderlust: (n.) A strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world.

My 2018 Travel Bucket List

Chicago, Illinois

“Take me out to the ball game. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I don’t care if I never get back. Let me root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win its a shame.”

And the Cubs did win! What a perfect way to kick off the beginning of an amazing weekend adventure in the windy city. With this being my 1st MLB game, it was so important to me to fully immerse myself in the experience, so I inhaled a Chicago style hot dog (Sooo good!), cheered with the crowd and of course in my best voice sang, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game!”

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Next Stop, Navy Pier. Unfortunately didn’t snap many photos here. As you walk down the boardwalk, you’ll see great options to grab a bite to eat or drink, Lake Michigan tours or simply some relaxing spots to soak in the beauty of the city. Hop on the Ferris wheel for a nice view of the Lake and City. Then headed to Cloud Gate, better known as, “The Bean.” A must see in the center of Millennium Park.

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Giordanos Deep Dish

Day one would not have been complete without stopping for some Deep Dish pizza. The battle of the best Deep Dish pizza in Chicago will be left up in the air until my next trip. Let’s just say one stop was all my stomach could handle in 48 hours. In an epic battle between Giordano’s Vs. Shyla, the longstanding champion Giordano’s won the fight. And it was lights out after this cheesy masterpiece.

Day 2 started with a beautiful view 100 stories high (1,130 feet high) at the John Hancock observatory (360 Chicago). This place is truly breathtaking. You can take some time to relax, grab a drink and simply soak in the magnificent views. After embracing the 360 degree views of the city, just a short distance away is the Oak Street Beach.

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John Hancock Observatory – 360 Chicago

As you leave the John Hancock center, you’ll be front and center to many shops as you step unto the Magnificent Mile. As someone that is obsessed with oceans and sand between my toes, checking out this “beach” was a must. Lake Michigan is so expansive that you’d really assume that it was an ocean, as there is no end in sight.

You would think going up 1,000 + feet in the air once would be enough, but oh no, I wanted to go higher!  1,353 feet to be exact. Where can you go higher? At the Willis Tower, formally known as the Sears Tower. This building was once the World’s Largest tower. Of course, if you are afraid of heights, stepping onto this glass overlook will probably not be your cup of tea, however it was worth the experience. (Side note… It only takes 60 seconds to get to the top)

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At this point, starving was an understatement so stopped for a quick bite at “The Gage.” This mussels dish was AMAZING!

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The Gage

With this restaurant being in close proximity to Millennium Park, take some time to explore the attractions; waterfall, performing arts stage, grab a Chicago style hot dog, visit the food trucks, you name it and it’s at the park. Just a few blocks up you’ll find the beginning of Route 66 and not too far from there you will be in the mix of more shops, Garrets popcorn and the Chicago Theatre.

This amazing trip would not have been complete, if I didn’t go to a show at the world renowned, Chicago Theatre. Although, I missed Hamilton. Jamming to some of my favorite artists was the cherry on top to memorable time in the Windy City.

Can’t wait to get back to Chicago!
Feel free to ask more about my weekend itinerary.

XOXO, Shy

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Willis Tower Skydeck

New Orleans, Louisiana

Beignets, Red Beans & Rice, Chargrilled Oysters, Jambalaya, Po-boys…

 

 

Is your mouth watering yet??

Well mine is, and it happens every time I think about and step foot into the marvelous city of New Orleans. So, is food my motivating factor for frequenting this city? Absolutely! However this city offers so much more that is best described only through experience.

As soon as you exit the plane you immediately feel the warm embrace of the people and spirit of New Orleans. And in some areas of the airport you may even here some jazz music to welcome you to the city. So with the biggest grin and heart full of excitement, I was ready to hit the streets and explore this great city of New Orleans.

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We had the pleasure of staying at a charming 19th Century boutique hotel called the, St. James. The staff was very hospitable and helpful during our stay. If you’ve never stayed in a boutique hotel, it is worth the experience. We were welcomed each morning with a complimentary tray of warm croissants and orange juice. The only requirement for this delicious treat…. Write on your door hanger: 1) How many croissants? 2) What time do you want them delivered? Simple and something you don’t want to skip. The hotel also had two quaint courtyards that you could use for reading or simply enjoying your morning snacks.

After getting settled the adventure began with a stop at Ruby Slipper Cafe. Voted best brunch in New Orleans for consecutive years, you can expect to see a large crowd waiting to enjoy this Southern gem.

IMG_2760The vibrant staff, delicious food and smiles on satisfied customers is enough to make the wait worth it. In addition, If you are not a Benedict fan, this place will make you a believer. Trust me! I selected the Peacemaker, which allows you to choose two different Benedict options. On my plate you’ll see the Eggs Cochon on the the left and the Chicken St. Charles on the right. My selected winner of the two was the Eggs Cochon.

At this point, a nap sounded like the best option simply because we were so full. But the streets of NOLA were calling our name. Right before we made it to Bourbon Street, we were approached by a representative for one of the many hotels in New Orleans. She took time to share some of the free benefits that she could offer us if we went to a presentation to hear more about her company’s vacation benefits. So in the proper essence of our go with the flow spirit we obliged and went to the presentation. I’ll save you from the details of what was asked of us. What I will say is that time share presentations are lengthy, pushy, and concerning especially if you don’t know what to expect. What we gained from this, was a free dinner on the Natchez Steam boat.

IMG_2776Finally, we then made it to the French Quarter. Restaurants, bars, people, laughter and dancing is what you’ll see plenty of. We strolled down Bourbon and decided to escape the  party to see the charming Armstrong Park. You’d almost forget that just a few blocks away, thousands of people are eating, drinking and celebrating life. This park is quiet and packed with history. Named to commemorate the legendary Louis Armstrong, this park honors the African contributions to modern music, specifically jazz. You’ll see an array of sculptures, a lagoon, and simply plenty of places for a perfect photo op. In addition, there is a significant landmark inside Armstrong Park, called Congo Square. Congo Square was previously known as “Place de Negres.” This is a place where the enslaved and freed black people would gather for meetings, to socialize, to sing, to dance and to market their homemade goods. Take some time to enjoy the overwhelming stillness that this park offers.

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Day 2 consisted of food, Jackson Square and more food…. We kicked off our day at Drago’s to try their Chargrilled Oysters. My personal go-to has always been Felix’s so I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and try another restaurant. Felix’s is still a winner in my book!!

New Orleans is certainly the city to expand your taste buds, be adventurous, and simply a great place to unwind and have fun. There was even more to share about this trip, so take a moment to head over to my itineraries page to see more of what made this trip to New Orleans a blast!

 

Laissez Bon Temps Rouler

“Let the Good Times Roll”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am……

Happy New Year!!

Can you believe it’s 2018?!

Every new year is an amazing time to assess, reflect and plan how we want the upcoming year to manifest. Lose weight, buy a home, pay off debt, travel more, enroll in school…. So many amazing goals that each of us set out to accomplish at the start of a new year.

An activity I do in preparation for a New Year is a vision board to allow myself to visualize what outcomes I’d like to attain. This creates an opportunity to think big, bold and vividly about my goals. This year, in addition to that activity, I am also challenging myself to think deeper and ask myself some additional questions in an effort to ensure that my goals are aligned with who I am.

Here’s a few of those questions:

Who is Shyla? Not who do I want people to think Shyla is, who is Shyla?

Is this who I want to be?

Is this what I want to do?

What’s holding me back from greatness?

What will I do to remove the roadblocks?

So I started with jotting down every thing that I feel represents me through I am statements. I’ll share some of my I am statements below:

 

I am a daughter

I am a sister

I am a friend

I am caring

I am loyal

I am courageous

I am understanding

I am a travel junkie

I am willing to take risks

I am not a know it all

I am unsure of each of my next steps

I am a beach lover

I am willing to learn from my mistakes

I am a foodie

I am strong

I am a fun seeker

I am enough

I am confident

…………………………………….

This was a revealing activity for me as my list continued to grow longer and longer. It allowed me to open up and recognize all of the things I feel strongly about myself as well as those areas that evoke strong emotions and may require some additional digging. This grew deeper as my goal was to only write the things that I truly believed embodied me, how I feel and not how others perceived me.

So, the next question was is this who I want to be? If not, what’s holding me back from greatness?

These questions will be very personal to you (as they were for me), however a great positive way to help you set your intentions to strive for the best version of yourself.

As I began to set my intention, believe it or not… my intention is to truly let my light shine, in any capacity that I am fortunate to have the opportunity.

Another truth, that was revealed in this process for me is to not runaway from the things I’ve asked for guidance on and that have potentially already been revealed…For instance (Take a look at my last 3 years of Vision boards below, you will notice that each year has had some type of reference to “Shine.”) So this journey towards recognizing my purpose and walking in faith towards what God has called me to do in a way has been revealed, however it’s time for me to own it and move from comfortable to uncomfortable as I grow.

I encourage you to take some time to ask yourself those questions I shared in the beginning and then take a moment to jot down your I am statements. Please feel free to share or comment your reaction, thoughts or feelings after doing this activity.

Happy planning and Happy New Year!!

Don’t Forget to Shine!!

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