Manicures and photobooths! I managed to arrive in heaven. Well, not really but this was all the pampering a girl needs to be happy. During the break I was torn between attending a bloggers revision workshop or a holistic scheduling break out session. I chose, How to get ish done and still have time to do yoga (The holistic scheduling session). I learned some pretty cool techniques, but most, I was already familiar with. When you have a 9-5 job, and manage two blogs and one website like I do, it’s imperative to hone your time management skills.
One of the questions asked was What would you do differently if you knew for sure that the only real currency you have in life is you?
When you start to think like this, you begin to take risks. If the only currency in life I had was me, I would have to do three things better:
- Make lasting relationships
- Get rid of the fear of rejection and take more risks.
Even though this was a hypothetical question, this is really a great way to put things into perspective. I need to start thinking of myself like currency and know my worth, because I have tons of value. Heck, I am a goldmine. You, who are reading this, whoever you are and wherever you may be should do the same.
Other Takeaways from Miss Catrice:
- Know why you do what you do and why you are the best at doing it
- Be very clear about your brand
- Do not be afraid to stand out
The stand out tip resonated with me most. It’s very important to be the person that stands out. Whether it’s a bright blazer, crazy hair, an amazing broach, always have a conversation piece on hand when a new opportunity presents itself at a conference or maybe even an event.
Follow @catriceology for some more personal and professional branding tips.
My next break out session was about the boring and monotonous world of SEO. SEO is search optimization, and if a blogger want to find success, their website/blog should come up on Google’s 1st page and not its 22nd.
Three tips I learned was:
- Making Google like you is all about creating amazing content that people love and share
- Publish up to date and real life content that people care about
- Brainstorm the common terms and phrases you think people use to search the broad topics of your blog site
Shortly after a delicious lunch, my last break out session of WITS15 day one would commence. I was torn between “Press Trip Travel,” which I believe would’ve been totally beneficial to me or “Meeting the Global Challenge of Educating Women Through Media: Soulful Travels with Grannies on Safari” I chose the latter and I am happy I did. Grannies on Safari did something to my soul. They were so cute and they have amazing chemistry. Most of all their session was almost like a call for action for us travelers to do more for others abroad. There are women across the world in Africa and India who can’t go to school because they don’t have sanitary napkins to wear while on their periods. That should never be the case. We have to use our platforms to bring awareness to these issues and help our sisters (and brothers) reach great heights in their lives even if they are miles away.
Grannies On Safari have a show on PBS and you can Click here to visit their website.
With Day One of WITS 15 down, I was feeling overwhelmed. I needed to connect with the many people that I met that day, but I also needed to take more action. I have more than one platform, one is even geared towards the empowerment of women and even though I’ve made progress with all my platforms, this conference made me realize, that my work has just begun. I needed to make more of an impact. Do more, heck, maybe even rebrand. That night, I had a feeling of non-complacency. If I learned anything from this conference it was that change and growth were on my horizons.
The night before Women In Travel Summit 2015 (WITS15) I planned out my whole schedule on Sched, which is a genius app for organizing your schedule and calendar. I was able to sync all the activities I would do for the weekend on my Gmail calendar, which alerted me every time I had a workshop coming up. I was all packed and ready to head to Boston for a weekend of connecting with other women travelers like myself. I hoped to leave with new friends and lasting connections yet I had very little expectations for what the weekend would bring. I love going into a new experience with an open mind and heart.
I realized I was in Boston when we drove past the harbor leading up to the Engineering School at Boston University. Beautiful town homes lined the stoned streets, it was so charming. The first event on the Sched calendar was an opening party at the We Work South Station. I decided to have dinner with my mom and grandmother instead, whom I brought with me to tag along and enjoy the city while I was at the conference. It would be the only time I had to hang with my favorite ladies before the conference really got started.
Saturday morning, I woke up refreshed. I got dressed in what seemed like a standard conference outfit; a dress, tights, boots and a cardigan. Everyone knows you can’t attend a conference without a cardigan. I checked in and was super excited when I was told that the amazing travel bags that were on each chair in the conference hall was for us to keep. I was torn between the red and the black. The red was vibrant, but the black was practical (I went with the bold red). I was overwhelmed and quite excited when I saw how many beautiful women were in attendance at the conference.
Where would I sit? I found a seat next to lovely women, as close to the front as I could possibly get. I love sitting in the front, it keeps you alert at all times. Breakfast was continental and consisted of bagels and delicious muffins. The opening speech came from an amazing woman, traveler and entrepreneur, Asian Fusion Girl also known as Dina. Dina’s story was raw, and relatable. Dina grew up internalizing the negative words of her mother who told her she wouldn’t amount to anything (her father was a bit more supportive and compassionate). She used these words to fuel her life to great heights. While in college she decided to pursue a career in music. She got on a plane to Brazil to connect with her uncle who had a connection at MTV in Sao Palo. What came out of her spontaneous trip was a record deal. However she ended up winning a huge legal settlement, when she heard the music from her demo tape on a commercial that was broadcasted throughout Brazil.
She decided to travel with her new found fortune. While in Italy she met a man who she gradually fell in love with. He was filthy rich and treated her like a queen. They traveled the world on his private jet and didn’t find it necessary to carry luggage, as there would always be clothes waiting for them at each location. He eventually asked her to marry him, but not before she invested some of her money into the stock market and was making huge returns; Dina was deemed the Girl with the Golden Touch because it seemed as if everything she touched turned to gold. Her fiance asked if he could invest some of her money and she didn’t think twice about it. After all, he was wealthy and such a boss. She admired what he did and how he handled his business.
One day when everything in Dina’s life was perfect, she received a call from her lawyers, frantically saying all her assets had been frozen because her fiance got busted for his illegal doings. She lost 90% of her assets. After going through all forms of depression she decided to travel the world and give the 10% she had left away to people in need. This woman walked right into her purpose. She opened up kitchens to feed the lower caste people of India and helped save 3-12 year old girls from being trafficked in Cambodia. She eventually picked herself back up, so overjoyed by her travels and began thriving in business again, initially with her blog Asian Fusion Girl.
I was so moved by Dina’s speech. Her honesty and transparency set the tone for the rest of the conference.It was at that very moment when I realized the type of conference I signed up to be apart of, and I was so happy I did. There were people out there that travel with purpose and I would learn more about giving back while traveling as the conference went on. Yet, this felt like a space where as women we could be empowered. We could be uplifted. We could share our stories. I was absolutely excited about what the rest of the day would bring.
Boston is uncharted territory for me and I literally didn’t know what to expect. I thought to ask around and got mixed reviews. My intern just returned from Boston on a college tour and exclaimed “Some of Boston’s buildings resemble warehouses.” My boyfriend, who went to school in Boston said “ Its not much to it besides sports, bars and seafood,” and my boss, well his words of advice were “You have to try the ricotta cheese cake at Modern Pastry in the North End.” Honestly, from the mixed reactions, I had little expectations but decided to come to my own conclusion.
My mom and grandmother were my companions for this trip. We got off the Greyhound at Southwark station around 6:45PM Friday evening and caught a cab to the Revere Hotel located in Downtown Boston’s theater district. What I immediately loved about Boston was how much it reminded me of my college years; there were so many young people (most likely students since Boston is home to some of the best schools in the country).
Check-in to the Revere Hotel was very accommodating. I had business cards sent to the venue and the staff was able to get them delivered to my room, despite the mail room being closed for the night.The Revere Hotel is a funky boutique hotel, with colorful and abstract pieces of art. It was very easy to call this hotel home for the weekend because of its cozy feel. One of the first things I noticed upon entering the room was the pillow menu, (A pillow menu?) now that’s accommodating. It gives you the option to choose the type of pillow you want, hypoallergenic? Anti-Snore? Or how soft or hard you want it to be We decided to eat dinner at Legal Seafood. I had the New England Clam Chowder. It was pretty good, but i’ve tasted better. My entree consisted of mashed potatoes and cajun shrimp. You can’t go to Boston without trying the Clam Chowder and Boston Cream Pie, it’s almost obligatory.
The rest of the weekend, when I was not at my Women In Travel conference (which is what brought me to Boston in the first place), I spent trying to get a feel for the city. It snowed all day Saturday, but on our last day it was sunny (cold, but sunny). I had a 2-hour break to explore. We went to Modern Pastry to try the delicious cheesecake and pastries. We then walked around the neighborhood, admiring the quaint town homes and narrow stone streets. We came across some noteworthy landmarks including the Paul Revere Statute, Old North Church and The Massachusetts State House. We stumbled across an historic chocolate and printing shop where I was able to see how chocolates were made and tasted during the revolutionary period. Boston was charming to say the least. It’s the perfect getaway if you want a change in scenery and to learn a little about American History.
According to Ky: 6 Things to Do in Boston
1-Try to attend a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party
2-Be adventurous like me and tackle the freedom tour without a tour guide
3-Join the debate; Do you prefer Mike’s Pastries or Modern Pastries? Take your pick!
4-You must try Boston Cream Pie and New England Clam Chowder while in Boston, it’s a must!
6-Visit the Cheers Bar from the famous TV show, where everybody knows your name.
Boston is beautiful and filled with so much history. From it’s quaint homes to it’s historical landmarks, this is a city that I would definitely visit again. I have to admit, and I am going to be honest here, after hearing stories about the race relations in Boston, I had some reservations about how I would be welcomed as an African American woman, nevertheless my experience was quite the opposite. The people are very pleasant and accommodating. I didn’t feel like an outsider at all. I was welcomed with smiles and small talk by the locals. The customer service was amazing. I really enjoyed my weekend here and I am happy I didn’t let the opinions of others deter me from my travels. This is why we should all travel, to break down misconceptions and to learn.