Photography: Sabrina Claudio

Before we were all kicked out of Randall’s Island on Friday due to “severe weather conditions’ that never happened. Don’t remind me on how upset I was…. Sabrina Claudio was performing. I was so in love with my camera and the way I caught her sultry look. Her voice is something else, and I absolutely love how these images came out.
You can see more of my concert photography on millistephaniaphotography.com 
Ps. This was my face when I heard the announcement that they cancelled the festival:

Travel: Bermuda 2018: Tie Dye Blues

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We’ve been counting the days. I recently peer pressured Kat into taking a trip with me,and guess what.. it worked! She hasn’t had a vacation in God knows how long, and I was on a mission to get out of New York. Seemed like a win-win to me.
I did all my homework, our itinerary was done (see how I make mine HERE) and I was already packed. (See how I travel with only a carry on HERE). I couldn’t wait to go through TSA and just land my butt on  my seat. I left work early and mid way to airport I realized I had forgotten to pack a bra.
Oh, well… it’t not like I’ll be needing it. Let them breathe!

Kat and I landed in Bermuda at 10:30pm, I got us a bottle of wine from the duty free and made our way to our airbnb. Our hosts Ashleigh and Pedro were sweethearts. Especially when they mentioned that most restaurant have already closed their kitchens, so she stocked us up on bread and cheese.
Grilled cheeses and a glass of wine before bed. Yum.
In the morning we were giddy, and it hit us…. we just woke up in Bermuda!

Since we were going to be starting our day in the island of St. George’s, we called our cab and put on some comfy sneakers. We knew we were going to be doing a lot of walking today, and I was ready to see all of it.

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Our cab driver Philip gave us a bit of a run down on the island, and after talking to him for a few minutes we all laughed at how funny life is. Apparently he was on the same flight we were! I guess we made a new friend.

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He dropped us off at Gates Fort, one of the tips of the island. We wanted to start all the way in the beginning.
The wind was blowing, the view was absolutely stunning, and everyone was so friendly. I put on my glasses because I want to be able to see everything, I want to soak up every single second of it. We pass by some construction workers, they greet us, and we greet them back. It looks like they’re working on some of the streets lights. They have the nicest tans I’ve probably ever seen.

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We keep walking and in between every other tree you can see a glimpse of the water right past it. The blues are so bright, both the sky and the water meet, and it seems like tie dye, swirling different shades of blue.
Blue seems to be the color of the island because every time I pass  someone new, they’re screaming at me
” You’re wearing the right colors!” The first time I said thank you and smiled.. but then it kept happening. ” That’s right girl, Blue!!!!” I keep laughing, but I have no idea why.

Kat and I keep walking and a jogger passes us. She had just stopped to take a breath and greets us. “Hi girls, welcome to Bermuda” I swear.. everyone so far has been so inviting and this alone makes me love Bermuda to the fullest. Cheryll shared some of the island’s history. She pointed to islands across the water and it seemed like everyone here was willing to share a bit of their culture with us. It was inviting, and most definitely helpful because we didn’t have to pay for any tour guides! hahaha

 

Travel: How I Travel With Only A Carry On

Flashback to October 2017, my parents are getting married in the Dominican Republic. Everyone is jumping on a plane and there’s so much to bring a long with us.
I’ve already packed about 4 days before our departure. My carry on is by the door, and a few days later, the night before our flight my dad is trying to pack at last minute. Everything is overstuffed and many things are missing like socks, both regular and dressy. He looks at me, proud of himself, and I’m like —No, move over.

I ended up packing his, my little brother’s and an extra bag.
Fast forward to today and it’s time for another one of my escapes. If you’ve been paying attention, I like to spend as little as possible when traveling. (See how I travel on a budget HERE) one of the things that saves me some cash, is not checking in a bag. Some airlines charge about $50 per bag. I avoid those fees by traveling with a carry on bag that’s included with my flight.

Carry on’s are pretty small, so I constantly get asked how I travel with only a carry on all the time. This time I decided to share.
I’m a huge list  maker, and if you’re not, that’s okay. Maybe mine will help you.

And to make things a little quirkier and colorful, I decided to draw a little something for the occasion.

This is how I pack my carry on:

In the event you can’t read my chicken scratch, some of my favorite tips are :

– wear comfy slip on sneakers at the airport, it makes it way easier to get through TSA. You don’t have have to worry about laces, or falling over when doing so when someone behind you is trying to rush. Also, wear some thin socks so your feet don’t have to touch that cold and dirty floor.

-When picking out your clothes, try sticking to the same color scheme. It makes matching much easier, especially if you want to mix and match pieces. This is also a great way to have a cohesive look on your Instagram!

-If you like dresses, you’re in luck. I like packing a bunch bc it means I don’t have to carry extra things to coordinate an outfit. Dresses and even rompers are a complete fit.

-When packing, try the the rolling method. Everyone is different, and lately I’ve been seeing alot of the packing cubes, which I’m sure are great. But rolling the clothing nice and tight gives me the ability to squeeze a lot of clothes in one place. It’s like playing Tetris, making sure every space is filled. Rolling also means no wrinkles, when you decide to wear.

-This is probably a given, but make sure you charge everything before leaving home. Your phone and camera should be full. If you have a camera, invest in extra batteries, Amazon even sells third party batteries, and it’s nicer to switch batteries rather than lugging around another charger.

-Since we’re talking tech, try getting a solar powered power bank. I personally like the solar powered ones because I can clip I on to my backpack and it charges itself throughout my day. I bought this one. It won’t ever be uncharged. (unless it’s night time and the sun isn’t my friend)

-Before even leaving to the airport you should get on Google and download their offline maps. Find the instructions HERE. This has been a huge game changer for me. In some places you don’t have access to Internet. When I visited Cuba, I was so glad I had maps downloaded, I always knew where I was, and even with no internet the maps are interactive because you have saved all that information. Try “starring” your favorite places too. Like where you want to eat, or even where your hotel or Airbnb is for easy finding.

-Always wear SPF. You should be doing this evening you’re not on vacation. And if you’re somewhere tropical don’t get blinded by the “I want a tan so bad” craze. You will get one, the sun is stronger in certain places and your health comes first.

-On the plane ride, bring a big scarf with you. Parshminas are perfect because they double up as a blanket. It gets pretty cold up there. You can also use the scarf at night in case you didn’t bring a jacket. And if you’re going somewhere warm, you can always use it as a sarong. When sleeping you can use it as a head wrap. Pieces that are multi purpose are perfect for traveling.

-I like to pack granola bars. I keep some in my backpack for the flight. Sometimes the snacks are teasers and pretzels and water just don’t cut it. They especially come in handy when I’m sightseeing and can’t find somewhere I want to eat. It can hold me down until I actually get to dinner time.

– Also, bring an empty water bottle with you. Yes, you read that right. When going through TSA, you’re not able to bring liquids. Bringing an empty bottle is efficient because yo can fill it up at a fountain and avoid paying $7 for a bottle at the duty free. Also, you get tiny bottles from the flight attendant.

-Have your passport and itinerary ready and close to you at all times. If you don’t know how to make an itinerary you can read this post HERE. I explained how to go about making your own. This helps with knowing which gate to go, and information needed. Another tip I like to do is to make a scan of my passport and paperwork I might need and email to myself. You never know if you misplace something and you don’t want to get stuck overseas with no identification.

-and my last tip for now… You’re on vacation, try unplugging from social media for a bit. Bask in all the culture around you. Have fun, meet new people and experience life. You can always upload later.

I hope this has been helpful, and if you use any of my methods, please share with me! I would love to see how it worked out for you.

Happy Traveling!
Stay tuned for my upcoming posts about my trip to Bermuda!
Best,

Travel: How I Travel on a Budget and How to Plan An Itinerary

Modern Backyard Cookout

A friend recently called me “The Human Planner” I giggled because it’s the first time I’ve heard that about me. But when I stopped giggling I thought about it, and she’s kinda right. I plan everything.
One of the many things that have to be in order is when I decide to travel, things like what to carry in my bag, an itinerary with details like flight information, my stay address and contact info, and of course what I actually want to do, see, eat… all broken down into days.
Yeah, it sounds like a lot, and most likely irritating. In my defense it’s more like a guideline, so I know where to start off my day.
The worst part of being on vacation is being limited to time. So why would I want to start my day not knowing what I want to do, which means I’ll be wasting time thinking about where to go first and not knowing if it’s open or not. Let alone on how to get there.
In my personal experience these are a few things that work for me:

  1. When should I travel? What are the best days to purchase?
    Again, in my opinion, we all have our things that work for us. There are  many who say booking your flight a few weeks before is usually the cheapest, there’s another myth that says Tuesdays at 7am is when  flights are the cheapest. Myself, I like to hunt for the best prices, and yes, I use many websites to do so. Comparing prices from Jetblue, Delta, Spirit and many airlines can be a little easier with expedia or websites similiar. One of the things that I like to use is Hopper. This app  “watches” flights for you, and let’s you know which days are cheapest and higher in rates by month and by color.  One of my favorite tricks is to open up two Jet Blue’s Fare Finder tabs side by side, and pick a one way trip. One tab gets the “from” destination while the other tab get’s the “to” option. This way i can see and play around with dates compared to prices.
    For example, let’s go to Puerto Rico:Blank 11 x 8.5 in
  2. I often get asked “how do you have and get so many days off of work?” How do you find the time?
    Every job is different, and I’m blessed to have one that let’s you accumulate Paid Time Off days according to how long you work there. The longer I work here, the more days I accumulate. So, If I’ve been working for a year, every month I gain a day of PTO time. Not counting the first 3 probation months, 12-3=9 PTO days that I have earned. After the first year, I earn 1.66 days or some random number like that. so in 2 months, instead of earning 2 days, I’ve gained 3. The longer I work here, the more I gain. Next year I’ll probably be gaining 2 days per month.
    Every job is different. Find out what your job offers you. Don’t be afraid to have a talk with your Human Resources Coordinator and see what benefits you gets that you actually don’t know about.
    Another thing that I keep in mind, is not calling out. (Even when I’m sick) In my mind, if I’m sick, I’m going to be sick anywhere and anyway… I might as well just go to work and not waste one of my hard earned days, doing nothing at home. (My coworkers will have to deal with all the coughing.. I know, not nice)
    Another thing to keep in mind is to manipulate your days off. Yes, this sounds mischievous. but I promise it’s not. Most jobs have holidays where you don’t have to go to work.  For example: Labor day is a day where I know I don’t have to go to work. So if I can incorporate a vacation around that time, that’s a day I don’t have to waste and can have an extra day to actually have fun and enjoy myself. Extra points for you if you sneak in your days off too.
    I only work Mondays through Friday. Let’s say Labor day is on a Monday. If I’m smart about it., my flight can be on Friday, right after I get out of work. I have Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday that I don’t have to worry about requesting days off. If I want to stay longer, and let’s say use up more time.. I can fly back home the following Sunday. I only have to use 4 PTO days (Tuesday-Friday), for a 10 day vacation. Isn’t that like secretly genius!?IMG_6055.2
  3.  How can I afford to travel all the time?
    Yes, traveling is very expensive.  I wish I was rolling in dough, throwing dollar bills up in the sky.. but the way I get paid, and the way my bills are set up… child please. I’m a firm believer that if you really want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. If I get paid bi-weekly, I budget my bills, and spending expenses accordingly. If I take out $100 every time I get paid and set it aside (and my advice– in cash and leave it at home so you won’t be tempted to spend it)  You better believe that 6 months in, you just saved $1,200.  You can take a nice vacation with $1,200.. and if you want to save more or less you can… or if you need more time, give yourself more time. Every person is different, every paycheck, responsibility is different.
    Also, I try to limit my spending when I’m saving. Which sounds pretty obvious, but I nice reality check that I give myself is — Would I rather be spending my money on dumb stuff here, or cool stuff somewhere else? ——-That usually stops me dead in my tracks.
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  4. Where can I  live where traveling?
    Everyone has different preferences. Many people appreciate hotels, while I don’t mind them.. they’re not my go-to. I have never had an issue with Airbnb, and they have done me well. I’ve used them for almost every single trip, Puerto Rico 4 times, Cuba 3 times, Paris, Madrid and others.
    My mindset when traveling is to live how the locals live, I want to experience the culture and I can’t do that from a fancy hotel room. When I stay in an airbnb I get a homey feel to things. One of the best things about airbnb is also the fact that you get to earn credits when you refer someone. They save money, and I save money on my next trip. ( So if you guys haven’t signed up and do, please use my link when booking, I would appreciate you forever. My friend Cintia recently when to Cuba, and we she stayed at her airbnb she saved $40, while I earned $20 off my next booking, so when I went to Bermuda, I already had a $20 off coupon waiting for me at check out. It’s a win-win!
  5.  Where do I pick where I should stay?
    Alright, so you have your flight picked out, you’ve saved up some cash and you decided you’re going to stay at airbnb (hopefully you used my link too) now the question is what neighborhood should you stay in? There are so many options, how can you possibly decide where to stay. Super easy.
    This is probably my best tip that I can give you.
    First off, start making a list of all the things you want to see. Maybe all the places you want to eat too.  After you’re done with your whole list order them in order of importance to you. What are the places you possibly cannot miss? Will you go home and regret that you didn’t see something?
    For example, when going to Paris, on everyone’s list is the Eiffel Tower, but is there anything around that neighborhood you want to see as well? Maybe the Arc de Triomphe?
    When you make a list of all the things you want to see, get on google maps or even an old school map if you like to be cool like me. Mark down all the locations from your list, and the neighborhood that has the most points win. You save so much on transportation costs because you’ve chosen a place to live that’s close to all the venues you want to experience. Plus you can always visit the other locations by neighborhood.. I’ll explain in the next point.
  6. How do I make an itinerary?
    You’ve chosen where you want to stay, and now it’s time for you to have some order. Try making a list by days. Add the Date and the information needed. If my flight is on August 16th, I’m going to need to write the flight number, the time of my flight, what time is boarding, my confirmation code, and other information I might need like my terminal, gate or even seat numbers. I know we have boarding passes, but sometimes having everything in one place is very helpful. Make sure you list the time you arrive as well. Estimating time after is helpful as well. If my flight lands at 10pm, I’ll probably need time to go through customs, grab my bag if I checked it in, and figure out how I’m getting to my hotel or airbnb. (Make sure you google how long the taxi drive is as well, or if it’s even worth it. Public transportation can be easy to figure out and way cheaper than a cab. If I landed by 10pm, I should be at my destination around 11pm, and instead of you having to look through emails, if you wrote down your address in your itinerary you already have your address handy. Writing down your hosts name is also a nice way to remind you to greet them accordingly, also that way you know who to ask for, write down their contact information as well, incase you need anything as well, like maybe extra towels, a cab number or even the wifi password.
    Now let’s get to the fun stuff, all the things you want to see and do. I group things together by neighborhood. When visiting Bermuda, I knew I wanted to see the unfinished church in St. Georges, I also wanted to stop by St. Peter’s church and also visit the crystal caves and see some Warwick shipwrecks. Doing all of these in one day is possible, but because their locations are so scattered, it wouldn’t make sense to do so. Plus I’ll be rushing to try to make sure everything is still open. If I make a day trip to St. Georges and see everything I want to see there, I only have to pay one cab fare over there, and don’t need to go back because that day is done. I can plan to see the shipwrecks which are in a complete different neighborhood the next day. Not only do you save money on transportation back and forth, you also save time.
    Another piece of advice I can offer is to group things together by leisure or activity. If you’re planning a day at the beach, it only makes sense to do more water activities that day like parasailing, or jetskiing. Don’t confuse your day (or your body) with walking around historic sites all day, and then going snorkeling. It’s two completely different activities, and they both definitely require different kind of clothing. On day one of Bermuda it was mostly sight seeing, so we knew to wear sneakers, and we were mentally prepared to walk into different venues. If I had on a bathing suit, walking into a church randomly with my chest exposed, it wouldn’t be the most appropriate.(True story, this has happened)

These are a few of my favorite tips when I’m planning my next trip. I hope they have helped you. I know it sounds like a lot, but remember that everyone is different, you don’t have to do everything as listed. Many times, I use my itinerary as a guideline of my vacation. I don’t always do every single thing as described. Remember to have fun and let the wind take you. Safely of course. Make friends with people, be open to new experiences and most importantly make memories.
Happy planning, and of course, if you have any questions or tips you also want to share, feel free to drop me a line.
Happy Traveling,

Illustration: Counting Down the Days

Counting down the days until
my next vacation like….

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Also, I’m glad I’m getting back into my rhthym of drawing.
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#littlebootiesmatter

Photography: Brandon Ruckdashel

Quick Photoshoot with actor Brandon Ruckdashel. 
You can see more of my photography on millistephaniaphotography.com

Illustration: Working On My Fitness

  It seems like most of my feed on my instagram is all about fitness at the moment. A lot of his to do with the fact that I went a following spree ever since I started to work out. Yes, you read that right. It’s been a long month, but I’m so happy I decided to take care of myself a little bit better.
I know I have some extra weight on me, but I honestly couldn’t care less. I wanted to better my health and for me to do that, I need to focus on making better choices. Plus all the extra endorphins has left me in such a great mood lately! Talk about win-win.
My dad is the perfect workout partner, we meet up after work do our best to keep each other motivated. We have the cutest little routine when it comes to working on our abs (or lack thereof) .
I drew this illustration in honor of this new chapter in my life. Though my butt looks nothing close to that (gooooals) Here’s to hoping it’s not just a stage, but a lifestyle change. Wish me luck guys….

and yes, after 25 squats, I walk away wobbling like bambi.

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