Disclaimer: I have partnered with Ford Motor Company and have been compensated to share my Ford Fusion and Essence Festival experience. All opinions are my own.
There’s just something sweet and sacred about the city of New Orleans, Lousiana. It’s been four years since I first made my way to NOLA and Ford has been there every step of the way! Remember way back when? I partnered with the Ford Escape and Essence.com to share my discovery of authentic cuisine and Cajun fun in the 4-part “Escape to New Orleans” series.
Since then, year-after-year I’ve experienced epic ESSENCE Fest moments, performances and local NOLA faire. From the shopping, museums and all the magical moments in between, an ESSENCE Festival experience should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s 2016 and we’re back again with the 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid on the Road To Essence Fest!
There’s so much more to New Orleans than Burbon Street and Beignets! There’s a rich history of culture that you can smell, see and taste around every corner. Over the past years, I’ve found a deep love and appreciation for a city that I would have never known if it wasn’t for the Essence Fest experience. Now I’m getting ready to take on my 5th year at ESSENCE Fest and I’m more excited than ever before!
All this week, I’m taking you behind the wheel on an epic ESSENCE Fest journey unlike any other. I’ll be sharing beauty and style tips for easy holiday travel, tips on navigating Essence Fest and NOLA like a pro and more – all powered by the 2017 Ford Fusion!
Check out my first impressions of the all new 2017 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium and see just why this hybrid sets the bar for style and sustainability!
Discover Five Tech Savvy Travel Tips For The Ultimate Road Trip This Season (+ Visa Giftcard Giveaway!)May 24th, 2016 by Christen
It’s the unofficial start of the summer and road trip season! With most planning on driving more than 50 miles in search of summer fun we’ve got the tips you need to make your next road trip a great one!
From how to drive, travel apps and more – we’ve teamed up with Toyota & industry expert Jeff Fortson to help make holiday travel more fuel-efficient and fun! (Plus we’re giving away Visa Giftcards to help fuel your holiday weekend travel!)
“Drivers can take simple steps to help them get the most gas mileage on their trips this Memorial Day weekend,” says Fortson, founder and editor of JeffCars.com, a site dedicated to auto education and car-buying clinics. “Taking heed to these tips will not only lead to fuel savings but will help provide a little extra money once you arrive at your destination.”
Toyota and Fortson offer six fuel-efficiency tips designed to help protect your pocket at the pump before you start a memorable road trip with family and friends.
- Use the cruise control (and the optional radar-activated cruise control system) for holiday road trips. Both systems minimize sudden acceleration and de-acceleration. According to fueleconomy.gov, speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can decrease gas mileage by 33 percent.
- Be sure to check and properly inflate each tire, including the spare before you set out on a trip. Gas mileage can be improved if tires have adequate pressure. Some vehicles are equipped with a tire pressure monitor system which alerts you when it detects tire pressure is critically low. If the car isn’t equipped with this system, a tire gauge can be purchased at the local parts store and the service department can check the air pressure.
- Rent a fuel-efficient vehicle. If you are renting a car, you may want to consider a hybrid vehicle, such as Prius or Prius V.
- Use the factory installed navigation system or a favorite app like Google Maps and Waze from your smartphone to make your drive safer. These navigation systems will alert drivers of traffic congestion and provide you with the shortest route to your destination.
- Always pack smart. Just like flying, you should only take necessary items for a road trip. Avoid using the roof rack, if possible, because it reduces the aerodynamics and decreases fuel efficiency.
- Watch the A/C. It is recommended that you use the air conditioner when driving highway speeds. When driving in stop-and-go traffic, turn the air conditioner off and allow air to circulate through the vehicle.
Are you getting ready for your next road trip? What’s inspiring your upcoming road trips this summer? TWEET US! @DivasAndDorks and share your favorite road trip inspirations on Twitter using #ToyotaMemories for your chance to win a $25 Visa Gift Card today!
Days before Christmas are the busiest travel days of the year! With millions expected to travel by planes, trains and automobiles – you need to use the travel tips that insiders know to experience travel that keep your sanity in check. From complimentary upgrades to seamless check-ins, incorporating technology to enhance your travel experience is the best way to create a smart and seamless travel all year long. Discover the easy way to travel with a few tech savvy travel tips for you to travel like tech-savvy pros below.
Pack your bags!
Packing like a pro doesn’t have to be a long and tedious task if you know how to do it right. From choosing the right gadgets to pack for your experience to discovering the best luggage to suit your needs, incorporating tech in your holiday excursion is simple and easy. Using packing cubes and TSA approved travel containers will keep your load light, easy and quite possibly svelte enough for carry on luggage. With Bluetooth enable luggage like the Bluesmart carry on leading the way in smart travel, you’re sure to curate tech savvy tips of your own and be able to travel like the pros just in time for theholidays.
[Must Read: 5 Ways To Improve Travel With Technology]
Living Local During Your Homecoming Visit!
Even if you’re coming home for a brief hoiday visit, that doesn’t mean that you want to stay in your old twin-bed laden room. Instead of heading straight for a hotel, why not consider staying for a short time in a bed and breakfast or consider finding the perfect home for your mini holiday vacation by using AirBnB.
There are plenty of ways to use technology to make the most of holiday travel and I’ve teamed up with Progressive to share tech-savvy travel tips to improve the way you travel this season and beyond. Discover how you can use technology to travel like the pros by visiting Progressive’s Life Lanes site here.
Technology has created more access to the whole wide world than ever before, so why not use a few tech-savvy tips to upgrade your next travel experience? What are your favorite gadgets and apps that you can’t travel without? Share your favorites in the comments below!
It’s no secret that I love to travel, I’ve scored over 100k miles this year alone and I couldn’t have done it sanely without my favorite traveling companion – my gadgets. Traveling locally or abroad requires that you carry essential tech to keep you connected, entertained and productive at all times. From keeping charged up to sharing on my favorite social media networks, discover just a few of the best travel gadgets for the tech-savvy jetsetter below.
Apple iPad Mini 4 ($389.00) – The Apple iPad mini 4 is the nucleus of my information, entertainment and production hub of gadgets. The lightweight tablet has a faster A8 processor, better front/rear cameras and a more vivid Retina display. The slimmed-down design, and the ability to run split-screen apps in iOS 9 makes multitasking a breeze on the go, making it perfect for making moves, no matter where your travels may take you.
ZAGG Rugged Book Case ($103.99) – The Zagg Rugged Book case is the accessory that keeps me productive – no matter what. Its unique hinge secures my tablet at virtually any viewing angle and allows for a convenient keyboard, video, and book mode, it also folds flat for a protective case mode. A multi-layered, removable case protects my iPad from the impact of tumbles and keeps my tablet safe from scratches no matter where it goes.
GoPro Hero 3 ($398.00) – GoPro Hero cameras aren’t just for extreme sports enthusiasts! It’s also for the professional jetsetter or occasional videographer who wants to capture the moment (hands free) while enjoying the moment too. With an improved 6-element lens, you can select from Ultra-wide, Medium and Narrow field-of-views to deliver more perspective-capture options than ever before. Plus it’s wifi enabled and with the app you can preview the moments right from your smartphone.
Apple Watch ($698.00) – An Apple watch can be quite useful for many things while traveling to new places. From inconspicuous maps that eliminate the awkward touristy vibe to banking and social media apps readily available at a flick of the wrist. With plenty of accessories and interchangeable bands available, I keep my Apple Watch in use from the moment I check into my flight using the Delta app to the moment I’m requesting an Uber or ordering food for my trip back home.
iPhone lavilier microphone ($19.99) – If you love to vlog from your smartphone or tablet, or just like sharing on Periscope or Snapchat, this iPhone microphone is for you! With the Miracle Sound Microphone you can finally create the perfect videos and audio files on your smartphone and tablet. Pristine sound without effort, no matter where you are!
Power bank ($34.99) – Not all power banks and portable chargers are created equal. That’s why when I first got my hand on a multi-usb power charger, I couldn’t imagine myself traveling without one ever since. The new Sently Power Bank boasts ultra-high capacity 20800mAh with dual 2.1A & 1A USB ports with LCD Display design. Save time charging your devices on the go with a power bank that will charge your iPhone 6 up to seven times, a Galaxy S6 up to five times or an iPad mini twice!
What are some of your favorite travel accessories while on the go? Share the travel gadgets that you can’t live without below!
It’s always been an experience I’ve wanted to scratch off my bucket list for some time now. Who wouldn’t want to grab their best girlfriend and go on a cross-country road trip in an amazing car?
Over the course of several weeks, Chevrolet’s hosted media influencers and journalists on a drive throughout the 48 US contagious states. Driving behind the wheel of the 2016 Chevy Camaro, we were encouraged to #FindNewRoads and discover points of innovation throughout the country. We visited landmarks and discovered the roads less traveled during our drive from New Orleans, LA to Dallas, TX (with plenty of exhilarating & unforgettable moments to spare!)
Check out a few of my favorite moments from our cross country Camaro drive in search to #FindNewRoads below!
Crescent City Connection
If you’re familiar with the Denzel Washington flick “Deja Vu” chances are, you’ve seen the iconic twin cantilever bridges that carry U.S. Route 90 Business over the Mississippi River in New Orleans before. Formerly known as the Greater New Orleans Bridge (GNO) – it’s the widest and most heavily traveled bridge on the lower Mississippi; instrumental with the Hurricane Katrina evacuations in 2005.
The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro and the Crescent City Connection – two iconic symbols of mobility and strength all rolled into one #FindNewRoads moment.
Mardi Gras World
What’s the next best thing to visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras? Taking a trip to one of the happiest places on earth – Mardi Gras World. We were looking for a real, behind-the-scenes look at New Orleans Mardi Gras and boy did we find it!
At Mardi Gras World, guides take the mask off Mardi Gras with an all-access Mardi Gras tour, winding through the massive studio where these magnificent floats are built from the ground up. Guests learn about the history of this unique and festive tradition and go beyond its reputation to get a deeper understanding of the real Mardi Gras.
One monkey don’t stop no show: The massive Mardi Gras World experience is a MUST during your next New Orleans visit. Make sure you bring plenty of camera storage because there are plenty of picture perfect moments you’ll want to capture during your visit.
Bayou Dinning And Aligator Bites
After a 15-mile drive outside of New Orleans, we stumbled upon the beauty and bounty of the Restaurant des Familles. Nestled along the waterway home to alligators, turtles, egrets and other wildlife (Bayou des Familles) – we were in search of authentic Cajun and Creole bites and the Alligator Stuffed Mushrooms with Alligator Sauce Piquant more than delivered.
Good Eats: We enjoyed the best of the best from the Restaurant de Familles including the grilled Shrimp & Grits with jalapeno-cheddar grits with scratch gravy, Caesar Salad and Catfish strips.
The Alligator Stuffed Mushrooms with Alligator Sauce Piquant was amazing – and the views of alligators just a few feet away were even better.
Swamp Tour Through Gator Country
I’ve never been in an airboat before, let alone on a tour through the swamps of the bayou. So of course finding the road less traveled lead us to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Trained guides escorted us into the murky waters of Louisiana swamps where we came face to face with the beauty and beasts of nature.
Driving The 2016 Camaro
The 2016 Camaro more than handled the road, it commanded it. Driving from New Orleans to Dallas as a Camaro road warrior was beyond amazing. As the most efficient and powerful Camaro SS ever it’s equipped with improved handling, performance, technology and kept heads turning throughout the entire drive.
Discover where the 2016 Camaro SS is headed next! Keep up with all the spectacular sights and see how others #FindNewRoads by visiting FindNewRoadsTrip.com
Are you an Uber aficionado or super user? A group of Uber drivers that are fed up with the company’s policies are preparing to organize a strike that will start Friday and last over the weekend.
An organization calling itself “UBER Freedom” has called for Uber drivers to avoid the app for the entirety of the three days in an effort to get the ride-hailing company to agree to its demands. The group is calling for the addition of a tip option in the app, an increase of the minimum fare to $7, an increase of the cancellation fee to $7 and a 60% bump in all Uber X fares.
UBER Freedom is calling for strikes in a variety of major U.S. cities including Houston, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. The main Facebook event page for the strike currently has more than 1,200 confirmations. Uber had around 162,000 drivers in the U.S., according to a study from December. Uber says that 1 million people around the world have provided Uber rides.
It is not immediately clear how many drivers plan to strike, but reports from Uber HQ hint that the strike this weekend shouldn’t hinder regular service in cities around the country. Looking to score a FREE RIDE this weekend? Sign up for Uber using our code and score a free $20 ride on us! Do you use Uber rides multiple times a week? Should Uber drivers receive better rates? Share your thoughts below!
Hootsuite is rolling out an Instagram integration that gives users of the popular social management tool several handy time-saving features. Social teams using Hootsuite will be able to share access to Instagram accounts across teams, monitor Instagram activity and create approval workflows, and respond to comments and engage with users. Because the Instagram monitoring exists side-by-side with other social streams, marketers will have an easier time, cross-promoting their Instagram activity on Facebook and Twitter, Hootsuite said in a release.
More from Hootsuite’s release: “This integration will also make you a more efficient social media manager. You will no longer have to switch between your phone and your computer to track all aspects of a social media campaign. If you launch a new product, you can respond to comments and engage users on Instagram from the same window you’re using to engage followers on Twitter and Facebook. Everything is in one place.”
Because Instagram’s terms and conditions still prohibit third-party posting, Hootsuite has created a scheduling workaround, similar to the one used by services such as Latergram. Essentially, Hootsuite has created a system to remind social marketers that they have an Instagram post ready to go.
Here’s how it works: A user can schedule posts to be published immediately or at a later time, uploading a photo and caption. When the scheduled time arrives, the Hootsuite Instagram app will send a push notification to the user’s mobile device. Clicking on the notification pulls up the Instagram app with the photo and caption loaded, and the user can publish at will.
Not exactly a seamless solution, but for marketers looking for more efficiency with their Instagram efforts, it’s a start. The Instagram app will be available from Hootsuite’s app directory beginning today.
Are you looking forward to using the new automated Instagram feature via Hootsuite? Share your thoughts below!
During a recent trip to Texas, I got the opportunity to indulge in a new way of living, thanks to Lincoln Black Label and an emerging neighborhood just north of Dallas, called Urban Reserve. With the launch of Lincoln Black Label, the luxury automotive company has created Lincoln Black Label at Home, an exclusive getaway intended to introduce luxury clients, media and prospective consumers to the program’s designer themes for the Lincoln MKC and MKZ.
A neighborhood of modern, single-family homes, designed by a select group of regionally and nationally recognized architects. Urban Reserve is the embodiment of a unique lifestyle founded on a synthesis of modern design, ready access to nature, a respect for the environment, and the good fortune of a rare and beautiful location just minutes from downtown Dallas.
Lincoln partnered with MAS Event + Design and interior design firm hOmE nyc and Condé Nast Media Group to launch Lincoln Black Label in Los Angeles at an exceptional Hollywood Hills property. Lincoln then took Black Label at Home to Miami, New York City and Dallas. In different spaces throughout each home, the Center Stage, Modern Heritage, Indulgence and Oasis themes are brought to life through experiential, aesthetic and culinary activations.
While my introduction to the Black Label at Home experience began in NYC, it wasn’t until my travels out west that I indulged in the total Lincoln Black Label lifestyle via this palatial indoor/outdoor Urban Reserve home.
Few things ignite our senses like fine chocolate, and such was the inspiration for this sumptuous theme. Uncommonly soft, beautiful leather, with a subtle antiqued finish, adds richness and depth to the interior, while Ziricote wood – usually reserved for high-end yachts and fine musical instruments – adds warmth without the need for dyes or stains.
During my Dallas Black Label at Home stay, I was allowed to choose which Black Label vehicle and theme to use for transportation. Upon arrival, I selected the Oasis themed Lincoln MKZ experience. The immersive staging plan allows guests to experience the ultimate in luxury, comfort and service, while highlighting all four themes within the home and beyond.
For those who appreciate a clean, modern aesthetic, look no further than this incredible theme. Featuring a high-contrast black-and-white interior highlighted by crimson stitching and Argento® wood trim, this clean color scheme marries the artful past of Lincoln to the vision for its future.
Lincoln Black Label colors and materials used in the vehicles, such as Venetian leather, Ziricote wood and Alcantara premium suede, inspired the palette of each room. Each of the headboards and bed frames are custom wrapped in Alcantara suede, as well as 2 Center Stage foot stools and a Foxfire Red bench.
Characterized by a harmonious, subtle, two-tone interior in soothing shades of cream and tan, Oasis evokes a desert spa sanctuary or perhaps the sandy dunes of a tropical paradise. Borrowing from Eastern influences, Oasis speaks to those who want to reduce the chaos in their lives and escape to a luxurious, calm, peaceful environment.
Inspired equally by the fashion world and the theater district, this interior is for those with a flair for the dramatic. The Jet Black leather interior with Foxfire Red Alcantara® accents captures the excitement of standing center stage, while onyx wood (MKZ) and black striped wood (MKC) add a lush texture to this undeniably stylish design.
If you’ve ever searched for the ultimate money-saving hack – then you’ve found it here! I’ve always searched for ways to save money for vacation (without the agony of being responsible and depositing saving account funds myself). If only there was a way to save money without feeling like we have to take extreme measures by doing things like skipping meals or not going out with friends ever again. Actually, there is a way, and it goes by the name of Digit.
Digit is a free online service that automates your savings in a way that you won’t realize you’re saving. Digit first links up to your bank account, reviews your payment history and predicts your income and cash flow. After Digit’s system understands how much you spend every day and how you try to manage your money, it calculates all your possible daily savings opportunities. Everyday, Digit takes out small amounts of money (anywhere from $5-$50) that you may not have realized you didn’t need or use. After Digit takes out the dough, it puts that cha-ching into your savings.
The whole idea behind Digit is that you’re saving little by little on the daily without feeling like you’re restricting your normal use of money. So you’re still buying your lunches, groceries and gas, but you’re saving too! Your savings stash goes into your personal FDIC-insured Digit account. Digit doesn’t store your password or go through your savings. The account is entirely yours with no minimums and no fees.
Digit always checks in with you and lets you know how much it’s been able to save for you via regular text messages. But if a particularly rainy day hits, just text the word “Withdraw” and your money will be in your pocket by the next business day. Sounds like we’re all going to need a bigger wallet. Ready to get started? Digit and earn $5 when you share this money saving app with others HERE.
Do you struggle to save money for vacation? What summer vacation will Digit help you save for?
During a recent uber trip from Harlem to LaGuardia Airport, my driver stops in front of the Delta departure terminal, turns around and says “I’m a new uber driver, please give me a 5-star rating and I’ll give you one back!” I smile, nod and quickly exit the Toyota Camry to catch my departing flight. Sometime between TSA and my flight, I re-rehearse our conversation in my head and realize, “Wait, did I just get rated by my uber driver???”
If you’ve ever used Uber, you’ll know that after every ride passengers are prompted to give the driver a rating–five stars for a perfect score, less if the car got lost, the driver was rude, or if there was a funky smell as soon as you got in. One thing I bet you didn’t know however, is that those Uber drivers you’ve been rating are rating you right back!
During a recent Florida trip, one uber driver explained “What Uber want is for people to respect the driver, and for drivers to respect the customer. We go above and beyond,” he said. “They can give us a low rating. It can go both ways. That way, we can police each other.” Uber also admits that its drivers can refuse to pick-up low-scoring passengers.
An Uber user who ended up on the blacklist told CBS how she got up there: “I asked the driver what was going on. And he basically told me I had a really low Uber rating: Under three out of five.” No, she wasn’t overtly rude or difficult with drivers to deserve the score, she simply chose to work on her phone rather than chat during her ride: “I feel really judged for being blacklisted for not being really friendly,” she said. Any passengers who manage to get a really low scores allegedly could be banned from using the service, or given a temporary cooling-off period.
If this news surprises you, you’re not alone. Until now finding out what your passenger rating is hasn’t been easy, but the next version of Uber’s app will clearly display the information. For now, you can find out your rating by sending a request to Uber, or by asking your next driver your customer rating.
New to Uber? Want to sign up for your first Uber ride? Click HERE! Want to learn more? I’ll be sharing tips on how you can improve your Uber customer rating and improve your chance of timely Uber pickups soon!