OK, so guess how much an average vacation costs. Dun-dun-dun-dun. It's a whopping $4,700! And while things like traveling internationally, staying in a nice hotel and planning to eat out for every meal (not to mention how long you plan on staying gone) definitely contribute to whether this could be your price tag reality, I'm pretty sure that I'm not jumping the gun when I say that money is gonna be a little tight for a lot of us this year when it comes to taking a traditional summer vacation.
Still, when you factor in all of the definitions of vacation that are up at the top of this article, just because you may not have a ton of coins (or maybe even a lot of time), that doesn't mean that you can't create your own vacation of sorts — one that doesn't require you spending a ton of cash or even going very far.
If you definitely would like a little bit of rest and relaxation in the upcoming weeks but your budget says you need to get creative, here are some ways to take a bit of a summer vacation — even if you can't really take one.
1. Shop Like You’re About to Go on a Trip
Aight, y'all. Let's not act like one of the best things about going on vacation is purchasing some new things to take on our trip. Since you're not actually going anywhere (or anywhere far), you can actually buy a few things without guilt or debt because you won't have to spend as much (if you're on a budget, that is).
So, why not use your non-vacation vacation as an opportunity to pick up a new dress, pair of pumps or whatever else you've been eyeing for a while? Something new, whether you wear it immediately or not, is always an easy way to put a smile on your face and take some of the stress off (again, if you budget).
2. Turn Your Bedroom into a (Temporary) Tropical Paradise
I know someone who had an actual tree (sans the leaves) in their living room. It was kinda dope because, every holiday (and also with the change of the seasons), they would put different decorations on it. Why not do something similar to this when it comes to your bedroom? Because here's the thing — the change of bedding, some new window treatments and maybe a big plant or a faux tree can make all of the difference in the world if you're ready for something new in your bedroom but you don't have the big bucks to go all out. If you would've liked nothing more than to go somewhere that requires a passport and has plenty of water and sand upon your arrival, Decoist is a site that offers 30 tips for how to turn your bedroom into a tropical oasis (check it out here). If you add a pineapple-scented soy candle, a fan and some ASMR of ocean waves, you really could feel like you're in a beach house — or very close to it.
3. Eat Different Exotic Foods Every Day
Something else that's fun about going on vacation is it's pretty common to either try a restaurant or a kind of food that you've never had before. That doesn't have to change, just because you're going to be at home. If you go to your favorite search engine and put "exotic recipes" into the search field, you might be surprised by the kind of dishes that you can make. Or, if the last thing that you want to do is be in your kitchen, try putting "unique dining experiences near me" in the search field instead for a list of restaurants that you can either go to or will deliver food to your front door.
4. Play Some World Music Sometimes
There are literally dozens of scientifically backed reasons for why listening to music is good for us. It reduces stress and anxiety. It puts us in a better mood (well, depending on what we choose to listen to). It can decrease pain and discomfort. It improves your memory, strengthens your heart and can even help you to sleep better.
That said, this time, rather than playing what you usually do (shout-out to 90s R&B fans), how about a little bit of world music? It can introduce you to new artists, expose you to another culture and can put your home's atmosphere into a totally different kind of vibe.
For instance, I happened upon a Nigerian artist named Banky W. and the song he wrote for his wife a few years back. It's called "Heaven (Susu's Song)". It definitely put me on the path to check out other artists in his country. Absolutely no regrets either.
5. Have Fun with Google Street View/Google Earth
Who said that just because you're not physically traveling anywhere that you can't still do some major sightseeing from the comfort and convenience of your own home? Thanks to Google Street View and Google Earth, you can look at various countries, museums, national parks — just about anything that you can possibly think of, all while sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.
6. Be a Tourist in Your Own City
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and I went to the Assembly Food Hall, downtown in Music City, for the first time and y'all — I've lived in Nashville since I was three and have written for the major newspaper here which means I spent a lot of time in that area…and when I tell you I barely recognized my own city? Nashville is on steroids right now! My point? I could easily spend a day down there and explore like I was a tourist. Chances are, you could probably do the same thing where you live since there's a really good chance that you've never really looked at where you live through the eyes of a tourist. Hey, it might seem like a corny thing to do on the surface, but you might be surprised what hanging out for a few hours in your own downtown will reveal to you.
7. Book a Hotel Room
It doesn't matter if you're single, in a relationship or wanting to hang out with your friends, you absolutely must take out at least one day to spend the night in a local hotel. Not some two-star one up the street either. Pick a place that you've always been curious about, go to a discount site likeHotels and book a reservation at a discounted rate. While the world is still trying to open up, you should be able to get a pretty good deal since many businesses are not as busy as they were prior to the pandemic (yet).
8. Do Something “Risky”
I don't know what it is about traveling to other places that makes us want to try things that we probably would never attempt at home. Why wait to go out of town to take a risk or two, though? Whether it's ziplining, skydiving, rock climbing — whatever, book an appointment to do it while you've got the time off. It's a great way to check something off of your bucket list and create a pretty awesome memory in the process.
9. Designate a “Good Vices” Day
One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "The excess of a virtue is a vice." Aristotle is who said it. What it basically means is, anything done in excess has the great potential to be problematic — even if it's good for you. So, if you've been eating super clean in order to shed some pounds, you can't remember the last time you've enjoyed your favorite cocktail or you've been craving ice cream for a couple of weeks now and, for whatever the reason, you've been denying yourself — why not use this time off to have what I call a "good vices" day. Nobody is saying to be reckless or anything. Just designate a day when you can order a pizza, roll up a couple of blunts and/or eat a couple of Krispy Kremes to your total heart's content. You're on vacation. Why the hell not?
10. Get Completely Off of the Grid
There are a few people I know who are definitely workaholics. What's my clue? Even when they go on vacation, they are still "plugged in". If it's not their laptop, it's their phone. A part of why you go on a vacation is so you can take a break away from your regular routine. So, unless you're a parent who is going to take a few days off from your kids, there really is no reason to be around your usual electronics during your down time. Folks can leave a voicemail, shoot an email or write a text. And I promise you, 85 percent of whatever it is that they say — it can wait until you return to your regularly scheduled life.
11. Leave Certain Topics Totally Off of the Table
Along the same lines of the point I just made, there is also absolutely no point in going on a vacation if all you're going to be doing is worrying about the same stuff that you do when you're not taking time off. So again, whether you're single, in a relationship or planning to do some of this with family members and/or friends, ask everyone to agree that certain topics are off of the table — bills, work, drama…stuff that prevents you from chilling out and completely relaxing.
When I'm working with married couples and I recommend that they take a sexcation, it is amazing how many of them return stressed because they decided to bring their problems along for the ride. A vacation should be about a shift in mindset more than anything else. Always remember that.
12. Don’t Forget About Your Sex Jar
One of the first articles that I wrote when I first came to this platform was "5 Reasons Why Every Married Couple Needs A Sex Jar". The gist is, if you're in a long-term exclusive relationship, every time you and your partner have sex, put some money into a jar. At the end of six months or a year, count up your coins and do something together that will benefit the relationship — whether that ends up being a trip to Baskin Robbins or a cruise is totally up to y'all and y'all's sex life. Anyway, if you happen to fall into this relational dynamic, there's no time like your vacation to start stacking up some paper. Sex jars are one of the best things ever invented. Using your vacation as an opportunity to take advantage of 'em.
13. Take Lots of Pictures
Maybe it's just me, but it's kinda crazy how folks will take selfies all day, every day (some literally) and yet, ask them to show you a picture of their family or some event, and oftentimes they find themselves drawing a blank. Where I'm going with this is, just because you may not end up doing anything super extravagant, that doesn't mean that memories won't be made, so be intentional about taking pictures. There's a list of apps for photographers here and an article on almost 40 cool editing apps for pictures here.
14. Rent a Vacation House in the Next County/Town/City
What if you actually do want a change of scenery for more than a night but your funds (or the amount of time off) are keeping you from going all out? Something worth considering is renting a vacation house, even if it's just for a couple of days. One site that you might want to try is VRBO. While it features listings from all over the United States, what I like about it is, there's a really good chance that you could find a dope house or even a mansion that isn't very far from you; one that you wouldn't have ever known about, had you not specifically gone looking for vacation homes. You can live like the rich for a little while without going into debt in the process.
15. Plan Your Next “Away Vacation”
Now that you're about to have some downtime, use it as an opportunity to also plan your next vacation that's away from your house/city. When you're sitting on the floor with some pizza, wine and your favorite tunes playing in the background, it can be fun to use some vacation-planning apps to figure out where you're gonna go, when and how much it will cost. And you know what? If you, even 50 percent of what's on this list, you might realize next year that you'll want to take a traditional vacation — and another one just like this too!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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In January, it was announced that feminine-care brand The Honey Pot was acquired by Compass Diversified for $380 million. Black women expressed outrage with commentary on why Black founders “sell out” and stressed their concerns about The Honey Pot changing their ingredients, similar to their outrage when their products went from being listed as "Black-owned" to "Black-founded" in 2022.
As a founder myself, I understand the importance of scaling your business. Scaling leads to opportunity and expansion for your brand, something that The Honey Pot is doing to change the landscape of vaginal wellness for all women.
Years before the acquisition, I was a supporter of the brand. When I first learned of their products in 2017, I was eager to try them as a Black woman searching for Black-owned feminine products. At the time, I just embarked on a wellness journey, and that meant not just physical and emotional wellness, but vaginal wellness also. The dangers of the toxic chemicals often found in feminine care products weren’t discussed when I was growing up.
Now, we live in a world with organic pads, tampons, feminine wash, and even plant-based feminine care. Women are now realizing how sacred our menstruation time is and that the products that we use can either help or hurt us during that time of the month.
My vaginal wellness journey was rooted in a quest for healing. After a relationship where I experienced infidelity, I had issues with my pH levels for over a year. I’d never felt so disconnected from my body and ashamed that I didn’t know why; I was determined to figure out a way to heal from the inside out. After learning that the founder started The Honey Pot after suffering from bacterial vaginosis for eight months, I was intrigued. On the back of the feminine wash, she shared how her ancestors came to her in a dream and gifted her with a vision to heal herself and now others, including me.
My first two purchases from the brand were their organic pantyliners (a product many women who already supported the brand recommended) with mint and sensitive feminine wash. If I’m being honest, I didn’t like the liners; with already having a sensitive vagina, the mint didn’t feel as soothing as I thought it would, but I was sold on the sensitive feminine wash. Almost immediately, I saw a change in my pH balance and sensitivity, and from there, I was hooked.
From there, I started discussing the importance of plant-based care with my mother and my family members. My approach to the idea of vaginal wellness started gentle, and then I started asking and not telling, removing the products that we’d all used previously out of the homes of my mother, godsister, and close friends, and when they’d call and ask me, “What happened to my other products?” I’d remind them of the importance of giving our vaginas the care they deserve. Eventually, they caught on and became supporters themselves, and now when I visit my mother, she has The Honey Pot products in her bathroom that I’ve never even tried myself.
Recently, I was running low on my feminine products, and as I placed an order to have what I needed to be delivered, to my surprise, I discovered The Honey Pot had expanded their product line quite a bit and now had not only intimacy products but also additional feminine washes and supplements that I now use daily.
Check out some of the newest additions to their product line below:
Does your pH feel off? Reduce odor and help maintain a healthy vaginal pH range with this 7-Day Boric Acid & Herbs Suppositories from The Honey Pot.
If you feel an itch, consider The Honey Pot Relief Ritual, which includes Anti-Itch Soothing Wipes that provide immediate, soothing relief using plant-derived ingredients and medicinal compounds without compromising your vaginal ecosystem, while their Soothing Wash and Soothing Lavender Vulva creams are ultra-mild solutions for vulvar itching and discomfort.
Swap out your daily probiotic with this probiotic with urinary support formulated with 4-Lacto strains and 10 billion CFUs per capsule that support good bacteria, along with cranberry and pomegranate for optimal urinary tract support.
Goodbye cranberry juice, hello supplements. With its science-backed, clinically-tested ingredients, bad bacteria will be kept at bay. And the fact that you can pair this daily staple with The Honey Pot wipes and washes? Your urinary tract will thank you later.
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