SLIDER

How I Use Google Flights to Find Cheap Flights

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hello friend! I hope you're having a thoughtful, interesting, productive day. The last several weeks zoomed by in a ridiculously rapid haze of writing, creating, clients, emails, & making moves. During all the hubbub, Fred & I looked for flights throughout Europe. I get a lot of questions asking how I afford to travel. My secret? I use Google Flights to find cheap flights. 


It's a strategic process. I used Google Flights to search for tickets to Paris last year. I used it to find the best prices to Portland, Oregon. I've used Google Flights for several trips & it's my favorite way to save money on flights. We used Google Flights to book our latest trip too. In October, I'm heading to Spain, Germany, & Norway!

Play Around With Airports



In an ideal scenario we'd fly out from San Diego International Airport since it's the closest airport to us, but sometimes you can save $200+ from flying from LAX.  It adds several hours of travel time but $200+ can make all the difference if you're on a budget or trying to travel affordably. Play around with the closest airports to you & to your destination to see price fluctuations. For example, roundtrip tickets from San Diego to Paris cost $560, whereas roundtrip Los Angeles to Paris is $360.

Keep Your Dates Open



You're less likely to get a good deal if you have to travel during a specific timeframe. If possible, keep your dates open. Check different dates & compare prices. That's why our winter trip to London was so affordable. Cloudy, frigid, with a dash of snow, but holy moly, Christmastime in London still warms my soul when I think about it. Because we keep our calendar open, we accidentally booked Bucket List moments every time we travel: Christmas in London, Autumn in Portland, Spring in Paris, Halloween in Oslo.

Check for One-Way Flights or Multi-City



We kept it simple by booking roundtrip flights the first couple Google Flights excursions. 7 nights in France. 9 nights in London (10, if you count the night we spent at London Gatwick Airport). If you're keen to explore multiple cities or countries on your trip, one-way flights or multi-city option is your best bet. It cost us a little over $29 for our flight from Barcelona to Berlin. $29. Less than a tank of gas & I'm off to a new country.

Be Aware of Flight Times & Layovers



The $506 roundtrip LAX to Amsterdam flight with a 3-hour layover seems perfect until you look at the fine print: you have one stop in London where you have to transfer from London Heathrow Airport to London Gatwick. You'd have to deboard the plane, take your luggage, get a ride to a completely different airport, go through customs & security in 3 hours?! Sounds like a missed flight to me! Be aware of flight times & layovers on Google Flights. You might find a great price but there might be some sort of weird layover or stop or time. After playing around with dates more, I found a $493 roundtrip LAX to Amsterdam flight with 1 hr 45-minute layover in Philadelphia. Now that's doable.

Book Directly With the Airline



Google Flights gave you affordable options & now you're ready to make a purchase. Heck yes! Save dollars when you book directly with the airline. Go to their website, search for your exact flight, date, & time, then make the purchase from there. Don't forget to sign up for any rewards to maximize potential savings.

Did these tips help you? 


Now that I booked my affordable flight tickets, time to find Airbnb accommodations, research things to do, eat, experience, & start my countdown! You have a trip planned? Have you used Google flights to find cheap flights?

Blogger Mail Products I'm Loving

Friday, August 24, 2018

As a blogger, influencer, social media professional (or whatever you want to call me), brands sometimes send items for promotional consideration. You might see things on Youtube or blogs like "HUGE PR UNBOXING" or "Blogger Mail Haul." I find this type of content fascinating because I'm nosy like that, but also because the social media & public relations world changes every day.


I love experimenting & learning about new-to-me brands, products, & concepts. Although brands send me free items, I don't talk about everything because, well, not everything is blog-worthy or a must-have. However, this blog post is meant to share a few goodies that brands & publicists sent me in the last few months that I genuinely enjoy, use, & want to share with YOU - because YOU ARE COOL.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 


Dry Brush Kit

I am wayyyy behind on the dry brushing train. Better late than never, as they say. One of my lovely friends & former coworkers connected me with ZenMe, a brand offering natural solutions to promote skin health & well-being. The ZenMe dry brush kit comes with a dry brush, pumice stone, exfoliating gloves, & a konjac sponge. Genuinely a great deal for the quality & amount of items in the set. Exfoliate pesky areas like your feet with the pumice stone - so effective!


Better Body Foods

Food gives me life. Literally. Better Body Foods aims to share healthier, nutritious food & ingredients without losing flavor. I particularly like the PBfit®, a powdered peanut butter with cocoa. Better Body Foods has a range of essentials like organic coconut flour to their LIVfit Superfood® Organic Superfood Blend with organic pea protein, flax seed powder, chia seed powder, hemp protein, & more goodies.


Christie Brinkley Stick Highlighter

Christie Brinkley is iconic. She's one of the first supermodels, gaining worldwide fame in the late 1970s with her cover on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She's stunning & radiant, but now we can get the same glow with the Christie Brinkley Authentic Beauty Strobe Show Natural Glow Stick Highlighter. The stick makes application easy & mess-free. I feel like my own version of a supermodel.


Poop Spray 💩

We all poop, right? Like, that's a fact. Simply spritz a couple sprays of DooDooJuice into the toilet bowl before you do your business to reduce smelly odors. DooDooJuice makes for a perfectly practical gift. Read the reviews if you want a laugh! If you want a low-down on how these types of products work, what they do, if they work, & how to integrate them in YOUR life, read my full post here.

So tell me: which product sounds the coolest to you? I'd love to know what YOU are into. Leave a comment. Say heyyyy. :]

7 Things To Do at Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas

Friday, August 10, 2018

I'm a tiny speck amongst the majestically carved Franklin Mountains & the vast Chihuahuan Desert landscape that surround me. I wipe a bead of sweat from my brow. It's barely 8 a.m. but the sun is no joke. I pull the brim of my El Paso hat down to cover as much of my face as possible. 


I'm exploring Franklin Mountains State Park as a familiarization tour guest of Visit El Paso. I look at the other travel influencers, journalists, bloggers, & writers. Everyone is taking photos. I put my phone on a wooden post, set a self-timer for 3, 2, 1. I smile. "Cheese!" I say to myself. I look at the picture.


It's glorious. Mother Earth is photogenic in that way. If you're a nature lover, hiking fan, or desert enthusiast, add Franklin Mountains State Park to your El Paso, Texas To Do List. There's so much you can do!


1. Nature Watching

The state park has a diverse ecosystem of birds, reptiles, coyotes, squirrels & maybe a mule deer or perhaps you'll spot a mountain lion.

2. Rock Climbing

Go on a rock climbing adventure! Bring your own equipment & climb at the designated area in McKelligon Canyon or at Sneed’s Cory in the Tom Mays Unit.

3. Camping

Stay at one of 14 tent campsites or 5 RV sites. Campsites don't have water or electricity. Click here to find out more about Franklin Mountains State Park camping & RV options.

4. Dining

Ok, there aren't any restaurants but you can still enjoy a meal on the mountain. Find picnic benches & shade so you can take in the view while you eat. It's such a good view. I loved eating my breakfast & watched the desert come to life in the morning.

5. Hiking

The hiking trails at Franklin Mountains State Park are intense. You could spend a lot of time exploring the 100 miles of trails on almost 27,000 acres. Bring water, cell phone, good shoes, & a hiking buddy.

6. History

Native American tribes made the area their home for thousands of years. Find their deep mortar pits for grinding seeds. If you're really lucky, you might spot their colorful pictographs & etched petroglyphs on boulders & rock walls. 

7. Events

Franklin Mountains has an active events pages which you can check out here.


Clear your mind & spend time with nature at Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas. Start off with a peaceful brunch on the mountain then camp overnight after a long day of exploring the trails. The entrance fee for adults is $5. Children 12 years & under are free. What are you waiting for? :]


Which activity sounds the most fun to you? :]

My 13-Year Vegetarian Anniversary + The Future of Plant-Based Omega-3 & Protein

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

This post is sponsored by iWi but the content & opinions expressed here are my own.


At the age of 15, I decided to go vegetarian. 

Being vegetarian means I don't eat meat, poultry, or fish. No chicken nuggets. No hamburgers. No fish fillets. Well, not in the standard sense of the word, at least. It's a privilege to have access to plant-based protein options that provide alternatives to some of the meals I had when I ate meat. It might be a privilege for me, but it's becoming a worldwide necessity.

Did you know the global population should reach 9.1 billion people by 2050? That means producing 70% more food for an additional 2 billion people while simultaneously combating poverty & hunger, according to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Those are hard numbers to look at.

Will there be enough land, water, & genetic diversity to meet demands? That's where innovative brands who want to change the world come to play. iWi is an algae-based nutrition company interested in building a sustainable & scalable way to feed the world. Just what the earth needs!


They grow algae for iWi Omega-3 Supplements in deserts using non-arable land, brackish water (salt water), & the sun as their main source of energy. It's exciting to have products like this available on the market. The times are changing &, to be honest, should continue to change!

When I turned vegetarian 13 years ago, there were hardly any vegetarian options available in grocery stores & restaurants. I'm happy to see a change in the landscape as brands like iWi produce green Omega-3 & protein while supporting & developing local & rural communities. Now I can have a convenient vegetarian/vegan source of Omega-3!


I'm particularly excited for the future of iWi as they delve into protein powder, protein snacks, protein bars, drinks, & alternative meats & fish over the next few years. Keep your eye out for iWi. Let me know if you'd like me to delve deeper into my favorite vegetarian protein options!

Use promo code 15IWILIFEO for 15% off your order. Head over to Amazon to shop iWi. It’s better for you & better for our beautiful planet.

* Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by iWi. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

How to Set Effective Personal & Business Goals So You Actually Get Things Done

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Instead of sitting, waiting, & wishing for things to happen, establish clear goals & create actionable tasks to complete them. There's no time to wait. NOW IS THE TIME. Follow these tips to make the most of your goals.

Take it from me, someone who CONSTANTLY gets off track. These strategies increased my overall productivity compared to the month before. 



1. WRITE IT DOWN

What good is a goal if you can't even remember it? Write your goals somewhere so you can see it. Type them in the notes section of your phone. Write it down on paper. Looking at your list serves as a constant reminder to strive for your goals.

2. BE SPECIFIC

Simply saying "I want to blog more" doesn't amount to much. How often do you want to blog? For how long? On which days? Where? What were you doing before? Vagueness is not your friend. The small details make a difference. A better & more specific goal is: "I want to publish one blog per week for the next 4 weeks. I can commit to writing, editing, & photographing my post on Saturday mornings since that's my only free time."



3. SHARE YOUR GOALS

What pushes you more (or is more embarrassing) than having a friend ask, "Did you ever finish that thing you were working on?" or "I thought you were going to give up watching so much Netflix." Sharing your goals might be the shove in the right direction. If you feel unmotivated, your friend asking "Whatever happened to...?" could be just what you need to keep going. So tell your friends & family! Share it on your blog or on social media. You could also hire me as your coach. :]

4. DON'T GIVE UP

Whatever your goals are, don't give up if it doesn't happen or work out right away. Sometimes life gets in the way. Distractions happen, but don't let it completely derail you. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't instantly work out. Keep at it! I was blogging for 4 years before I earned even one cent!!

5. DO IT

Don't just say you're going to do something, do it. Don't procrastinate. You want to workout more or write more? Well, get up off your butt & head to the gym or go on a walk or start typing on your laptop, even if you have nothing to say. Actions speak louder than words, so let your actions do the talking.

1 Year Self-Employment Update: Life as a Blogger, Influencer, Entrepreneur

Monday, July 02, 2018

Holy spicy guacamole.

I quit my job one year ago.


A lot happened. I chronicled all the details in my 8-month update with a word of encouragement - I talked about my travels, my brand campaigns & sponsorships, & all those juicy details. But it's been a few months since then.

I ended up spending my one year self-employment anniversary in El Paso, Texas as part of a press trip! 



It's crazy to think I gave my two weeks notice & quit my corporate job one year ago!! I recall that nerve-wracking day. How could I forget? I left the office for the last time feeling scared, excited, hopeful. 

I had no idea what it would be like to be on my own as a blogger, influencer, & budding entrepreneur. Ups & downs. Highs & lows. Successes & failures. A bit of everything, really.

One year later, I’m walking around downtown El Paso, Texas for a familiarization tour with Visit El Paso. We had breakfast on a mountain at Franklin Mountains State Park, then I fed a state park AJ the giraffe. We hopped over to La Union, New Mexico for wine at La Viña Winery. It's all a part of the job. It's part of the ever-changing landscape of being a writer, a lifestyle blogger, a content creator, a travel influencer, an inspirer. 

Expect to see an El Paso travel guide in the upcoming weeks!


My El Paso, Texas press trip inspired my career even further. It reinforced the reason why I quit corporate America in the first place. Dare to follow your dreams, but more importantly, don’t forget to put in the work. In the day-to-day, it’s practically impossible to see your progress but you must believe, have strength, & faith & continue putting in the effort. 

Dream on.
Work hard.
Live harder.

After weeks of struggling with self-doubt, I empowered myself to take action & LAUNCH.

I launched the July Blogger & Influencer Challenge as a way to cover some of the information in my private coaching but make it affordable & accessible to more people. Every weekday in July each registrant receives coaching content straight to their inbox geared for badass bloggers & influencers looking to increase their social media reach, following, opportunities, & income.


Need some help making progress on your blog or social media platform? Want guidance on how to get more views, followers, opportunities? Struggling to understand the online world or how to find readers/clients? Fill out my FREE Discovery Questionnaire if you're interested to find out about more coaching & how I can help you.

Stay up-to-date on my travels & blogging adventures on Instagram & Instagram Stories.

So tell me: are you new around here? What kind of blog posts do you want to see? How can I HELP you? :]

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