JOIN ME!! LOST & FOUND MARRAKECH 2017!!

I LOVE to experience the world. To not just see it, but to feel it, live it & collide with it. To go to new places and be surprised & amazed by things I didn't even know existed. To feel the freedom that comes with walking away from everything that anchors me to my daily life.

And that's exactly what happened during my trip to Marrakech. From the moment I stepped off the plane I was in love...so much so that I decided the whole thing again and bring you along with me. To help you experience my unique method of Slow Travel that encourages you to dive in not solely as a tourist & consumer in a foreign land but as a traveler & storyteller engaged in the next chapter of your own life. I'm here to help you create an authentic experience all your own.

Hands down, my best international trip to date--quite healing. Dayka definitely knows how to create an experience and it's worth every penny. I loved that each day wasn't jam packed with activities, that there was a good balance between relaxation time & things that required my energy.

I was blessed to have an amazing group of women from a cross-section of experiences join me for my inaugural trip! We connected in ways & across boundaries that don't always happen when you start "adulting" & get so immersed in everyday life that you don't feel you have the luxury to just drop everything & connect. But when you're overseas & in a totally new environment?? It's what this kind of trip is made for. There were married women & single women. Women with kids & women without. High level entrepreneurs & home schoolers. A professor & a Personal Chef. I couldn't have asked for a better group!

My biggest concern about investing in the Lost & Found Marrakech experience was traveling by myself to a destination where I wasn't really close to anyone. I wasn't sure if my personality would fit and if I'd feel alone and bored throughout my stay. Instead, the moment I met the other individuals who were on the trip, we connected as if we've known each other for years! I honestly made life long friends on this trip and we shared and connected like family. Totally unexpected bonus.

This year I've made a few changes to the trip as a means of designing an experience that really gets to the heart of what I want to create: Connection & Community. It's about more than just seeing a new country/continent & great photo ops--it's an opportunity to reconnect to yourself & what really matters by unplugging from the world and remembering who you were before you started to accumulate so much extra stuff in your life. To form a new community with a few women you can't even imagine meeting just yet.

What I've designed is a creative & culturally immersive travel experience for: Rest. Adventure. Conversation. Food. Reflection. Solitude. Flow. Perspective Shifts. Art. And an opportunity to remember who you were before you became everything they (family, friends, job, kids, partner) wanted you to be. To get back to her.

I'd highly recommend any travel experience curated by Dayka! It was evident that she was in her element and left no stone unturned for the comfort and exposure of her guests. The added surprises and mementos were the icing on the cake!

You know those mind blowing conversations you stumble upon where everyone just vibes off one another & people are being vulnerable and honest and theres's so much magic in the air that you can feel it??

Well that's exactly what this is--a magical opportunity for you to become more of yourself.

So if you want to come to Marrakech to create magic--to unplug, shed your skin, reconnect with yourself, put your hands to work & create the kind of memories that leave a mark on your soul--then I want you to come with me. Yes, I want to help you "grow" your passport stamps but more importantly, I'm here to help you, "grow" you.

I've extended this year's trip by a few days & also added in some really cool activities to help you experience Morocco in ways that can only happen on the continent, like private, hands-on cooking lessons, a riad tour and seeing Marrakech from 2,000 feet in the air. We'll spend time together talking as a group about how to create the life you really want to live, how to identify your core values & we'll explore what it means to live in personal integrity & alignment, both at home & at work. I'm even going to teach you my sacred method for creating a personal piece of art that will allow you to visually document the most important experiences of your life (and if you follow me on IG you know what I mean!).

But don't worry--there will still be ample time for you to explore on your own, at your own pace. We'll also laugh a lot. Sleep a lot. Develop our own little private jokes. Shop the souks & explore the city. If you've never been to Marrakech let me warn you now--it's everything the pictures show it to be....& more.

This is designed to be an intimate experience and as such, space is limited to 6 interesting, quirky & engaging women. Last year I sold out in less than 48 hours. So if you know this is the right thing for you, don't delay. 

Here's how to know if this is right for you! If you are an: adventurous woman who loves to explore new cultures & welcomes the opportunity to learn about new lands, languages & ways of life. Someone who enjoys trying new foods. A woman who enjoys pushing the boundaries of her own comfort zone & values EXPERIENCES above THINGS. A woman who doesn't need to depend on a travel guide & who enjoys being by herself...but also enjoys the community that's forged by deeper connections. Someone who doesn't take herself too seriously, loves to laugh & enjoys meeting new people, then you will love this trip.

This trip is not right for: High maintenance women. Picky eaters. Women who can't bare to be unplugged from WIFI. Those who expect to be hand-held, are afraid to be alone, don't like to walk, or get annoyed around non-English speakers. If you have a Type-A personality, are overly dramatic (and you KNOW if you are!!), or expect a very Western experience akin to staying in a traditional hotel, please don't come with me...you won't have a good time on this kind of trip.

So if this sounds like something you want to be a part of, join me for Lost & Found Marrakech 2017. It's like nothing you've ever experienced before. 

October 10-17, 2017

  • 8 days/7 nights accommodation in a beautiful traditional Moroccan riad with modern styling (double occupancy & private bath)
  • Daily breakfast featuring tea, fresh breads, eggs, honey, jams, yoghurt & specialty Moroccan dishes
  • From-scratch Welcome Dinner upon arrival made from fresh, local & seasonal ingredients
  • Sunrise hot air balloon ride over Marrakech highlighting desert landscapes & traditional Berber villages
  • Private, hands-on cooking class with Moroccan women where we'll learn the secrets to preparing traditional Moroccan dishes. Lunch included. 
  • Half day ATV tour of Lake Takerkoust, Agafay desert + traditional tea in a Berber village
  • Guided, sit-down gourmet food & riad tour showcasing regional specialties, traditional spices, & beautiful riads you'd never see on your own 
  • Round trip transfer to & from RAK (Marrakech airport)
  •  Welcome gift bag filled with goodies! 

Total Investment= $2715 (not including airfare)

The Details

Your $2715 investment can be paid up front, in one payment, or divided into 7 payments:

March 7, 2017: $515 deposit due

 Second payment due April 7th 2017: $366.67 

Third payment due May 7th 2017: $366.67

Fourth payment due June 7th 2017: $366.67

Fifth payment due July 7th 2017: $366.67

Sixth payment due August 7th 2017: $366.67

Seventh payment due September 7th 2017: $366.67

**Please note that due to the logistics involved with planning a trip like this, all deposits & installment payments are NON-REFUNDABLE. It is highly encouraged that you get travel insurance which will protect your investment in the unlikely event you need to cancel.**

Lost & Found Marrakech 2017 FULL PAYMENT $2715.00
[wpecpp name="Lost & Found Marrakech Full Payment" price="2715.00" align="center"]
Lost & Found Marrakech 2017 DEPOSIT PAYMENT $515.00
[wpecpp name="Lost & Found Marrakech DEPOSIT PAYMENT" price="515.00" align="center"]

 

As the trip gets closer you’ll receive a guide each month detailing helpful hints, airfare hacks, and FAQs on what to expect while in Marrakech including weather, dress code, safety, Islamic customs/traditions, etc. Have questions?? Feel free to send me an email at dayka@daykarobinsondesigns.com. Hope to see you in Marrakech!!! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! MY 2015 YEAR IN REVIEW.

Dayka Robinson 2016 New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

2015 was probably my best year. (*except for 1984 when I got the Michael Jackson poster, doll and microphone for my 5th birthday but I digress*). 

Dayka Robinson, Jason, Kim,  Spelman Morehouse Homecomign 2015

DAyka Robinson, HGTV Spring House 2015 BTS

Dayka Robinson Atlanta Home Summer launch party 2015

Dayka Robinson, Spelhouse Homecoming 2015

Dayka Robinson styling, Columus Ohio, Big Lots, 2015

Dayka Iesia 36th birthday 2015

Dayka Robinson Designs 2015

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Dayka Robinson, magazine shoot, press, oct 2015

In January I proclaimed that my word for the year would be Intention but if I had to pick a theme, I'd say it was Expansion. My life really exploded last year. Personally & professionally, in ways I welcomed and ways that made me cringe, the entire year GREW me in the best ways possible. Many things (MANY things) didn't go according to plan and yet I feel really good about 2015 anyhow. And I can't articulate how good it feels to be able to say that. I've been in a sweet spot with my business for awhile and this was the year that saw me growing beyond my own comfort zones. Realizing that I want something beyond Interior Design and starting to allow myself to go after it. One of the biggest lessons I learned (and one I preach often) is--Pay Attention to How You Feel. I learned to really tune into how my body is feeling and let those feelings guide my next steps. If thinking about something gave me anxiety, headaches or made me feel uncomfortable, I tried my best to acknowledge te "elephant in the room" and steer clear....even when that meant I didn't know the next step. And I often didn't know the next step. But I started thinking a lot about things like ease and the path of least resistance and as much as possible, I tried to let that guide me when I didn't know what to do.  My 2015 was pressed down, shaken together and running over.  Here's a look back:

Dayka Robinson Stephanie Abrams Al Roker Wake Up With Al 2015

Dayka Robinson Designs Home Tour Southern Lady Southern Home magazine 2015-7

FIRST QUARTER:  In the most intimate & personal post I've ever penned I finally shared the story of my Vitiligo diagnosis with the world and received such kind & supportive feedback from everyone. So funny how I was so nervous about putting everything out there and now I'm like, "Oh, that? Oh yeah....". Growth is a beautiful thing.  Southern Home launched an incredible 8 page spread of my home and it was the first time I've really shared pics of where I lay my head in detail. You never really know if you're gonna love the articles when they come out but I've been really lucky--it was beautiful & working with everyone was a dream. I landed a coveted spot on Al Roker's national morning show, Wake Up With Al, with a live, in-studio interview with the man himself. Listen to me: Me. Live. Interviewed by Al Roker & Stephanie Abrams. National TV. Like, 3 days notice. Had me shaking a bit but I left the studio feeling like I knocked it out of the park. A major milestone checked off of my list. A cool, more personal feature on my journey went live on BlackEnterprise.com. Turned 36.

Dayka Robinson Designs Home  Black & White Office Makeover horizontal black trim

Dayka Robinson Designs Essence magazine-may-2015

SECOND QUARTER: Redesigned my home office & created a space I'm still obsessed with! Started renovating my 1985 bathroom. Ummm....an ESSENCE MAGAZINE feature--an unexpected dream come true! A beautiful & personal Atlanta Home feature. Changed the course of my life when I decided to turn down a work opportunity to travel to abroad on my own--wrote that I was going before I even purchased the ticket. Created & starred in videos for Astrobrights, Office Depot & Office Max.

Dayka Robinson, North River Lobster Company 2015 Dayka Robinson, New York Historical Society Museum 2015

Dayka Robinson Brookside Oak Sink Kohler Brass Butcher Block

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THIRD QUARTER: Got the New York blood running back through my veins when I spent all of July in NYC. Worked on the Traditional Home showhouse in the Hamptons with BPF (see more of that on Instagram). Got a crazy stupid tooth infection on 4th of July. Saw Rob Bell in person! Hired by my first NYC client. Worked my butt off renovation a local clients' ever-expanding bathroom project. Changed the course of my life when I went to Istanbul. Came back to tons of work. Finally got my hands on a copy of my Black Enterprise feature--2 full pages, all Dayka. Hired an intern & learned a lot about being a boss.

Dayka Robinson, Colgate Palmolive, Family Dolla Fabulous Atlanta 2015 Dayka Robinson, Jenni Evora Family Dollar Fabulous Atlanta 2015

Dayka Robinson, Amtrak California Zephyr trip 2015

FOURTH QUARTER: Wrapped up client projects. Hired by Colgate Palmolive as Brand Ambassador for a very cool Family Dollar Fabulous event (Atlanta). Flew to Ohio to style TV commercials for Big Lots holiday spots. Was contacted about a super cool project shooting at my house with a major national magazine (goes live in 2016!). Decided to see America by Amtrak and booked myself on an extended vacation--one that was much more transformative than expected. Diligently working on a new website launch to expand my brand & diversify. TOOK THE TIME OFF THAT I EARNED!

So 2015 was full. And juicy. It gave me the courage to dream bigger & take more risks, which is the only way to create the life I most want. So that's what I'm gonna do. Step by step, bit by bit.

22 DAYS.

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22.

Alone that number doesn't mean much but in context, it represents a huge milestone in my life, because it's the amount of vacation days I took this year. 

Yup. Twenty. Two. Days. Of. Vacation. (shut up!!!!)

And I'm talking for real vacation, not that stay at home thing. That's basically a whole month of vacation, doing, living & moving as I want to. And it may not seem like a big deal to you but here's what it means to me: that the girl who graduated college not knowing what she wanted to do, bounced around from job to job, decided to follow a curiosity for which there really wasn't a path, built her own business while often feeling around in the dark, hit some personal speed bumps, and questioned whether she was doing the right thing but kept showing up--on her own terms--anyhow, can create a life where she gets 22 days of vacation in one year, then I'm pretty sure that you can do it too. I promise we're not that different.

So in the spirit of honesty, I looked back at my 2015 post written as my 2016 self and you'll see that I specifically said I was doing more traveling AND going on more vacations this year so it's not like I didn't claim it. But even then, I didn't really believe that it was possible likethis, for me. Sure everyone talks about taking "real vacations" and where they would go if they could but the reality is, we Americans tend to use our vacation days for things like handling important personal business, sick days or intermittent 3-day weekends. Not for taking care of self. As the year started progressing and Istanbul became a possibility, I said over & over that I wanted to spend more time traveling and once I did, it seemed like everywhere I looked I was being shown how possible it was. I started receiving newsletters with flight deals and following sites like Travel Noire that ramped up my desire. You've already read the story but my ticket to Istanbul? I found that deal in the wee hours of the morning after checking one of those sites on a whim. Next thing you know, I was across the world having the time of my life for a fraction of what it could've cost me with a group. BAM.

But let me not make this post about the deals.What I want to share (and celebrate) is this milestone of mine in the context of what it means to be an entrepreneur, self-employed, and to have the luxury of almost one month of vacation. There were times in these past 5 years when I didn't know how I would make it financially. When I wasn't sure what I was doing in my business. When my house seemed more like an albatross around my neck than my perfect refuge from the world. When I was all panicky like, "OMG, am I ever gonna go on vacation again??". And then all of the sudden I look up and here's 2015, dangling weeks of vacation in my face like "Heyyyyy girl, c'mon...". And you know what? These vacation days were actually work days for me (stay with me here). Not in the rolling-my-eyes-cause-I-don't-wanna-do-this kinda work but the who-I-am-and-what-I-do-are-so-in-alignment-that-work-is-my-life way. Traveling has given me content (substance). It's allowed me to not only connect with fellow travelers & people I met along my journey, but to connect with my tribe (that's YOU) in a deeper way. To expand my life and encourage you to expand yours, too. And that's really the work I want to be doing.

Pardon my brag moment but I'm pretty damn proud of this!! It's a reminder that when all of the ups & downs are weighed, I've had a better life taking a chance on me than I ever had as a 9-5 employee. There are new dreams on the horizon now + new fires burning and it helps to be reminded that I've already done so much more on my own than I ever did chained to a standard office job. And you know what else? The things I most desire are truly desiring me--just not in the way or time that I think they should. I wrote that post in January and effectively forgot about it after the first quarter. But that international vacation & those passport stamps I mentioned?They were hunting me down even in my "forgetfulness". 

So I think I've got the hang of this thing now.

Next year I'm claiming more than double which may sound crazy to you but....watch it happen.

22 days in 2015.I'm geeked. 

AMERICA BY AMTRAK: MY CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR CROSS COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

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It takes a certain kind of person to want to travel cross country by train.

There are some places you'll go, people you'll meet and things you'll see that will awaken you to the fact that you're far from home (perspectives differ greatly across this country)...and yet remind you that this vast country IS your home. You'll get to ride through a million little Heartland towns--ones you'd probably miss if you routed yourself cross country in a car. But most importantly, there's all the time you'll have to simply relax. Be rocked to sleep by the train as it runs across the rails. Cozy up with a book you've been meaning to read. Watch a movie. Stretch your legs. And just be alone in your thoughts. In comfort. Huge reclining seats with elevated footrests (and I mean reclining, not like that 2 degree airplane recline). Window curtains for the sleepy hours. Comfy lounge chairs, end tables & dining tables in the Observation Car for the times when you wanna just hang out. Food on demand (for a fee). I mean, seriously--what's not to love about riding the rails??! Long distance train travel definitely isn't for the "I-wanna-hurry-up-and-get-there" crowd--riding Amtrak is all about creating a deliberate experience though new meeting people, engaging in wide-ranging conversations, and enjoying a slower/less hectic pace of travel. And if you're into that kinda thing, then I'm telling you--you need to book yourself a ticket in 2016.

Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
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Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015 Colorado
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015 Colorado

So first things first: Amtrak. My adventure was fantastic--everything I hoped it would be (except longer!)! I flew up to Washington D.C. the day prior to my departure and then traveled from DC to Chicago on the Capitol Limited (via Coach, since I couldn't justify paying an additional $300 for a 15 hour ride). I did some research before I left & learned that Amtrak runs the A/C year-round in each car so it can get chilly at night....and if there's one thing I really don't like it's being cold while I slumber, so I came prepared with a plush throw blanket + pillow packed in my carry on. It was by no means freezing, but I wouldn't have wanted to be without my goodies, either. :-) When I arrived in Chicago the next morning, I decided to make the most of of my 5.5 hour layover by checking my luggage & exploring the city. In DC I'd originally planned to visit the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture but didn't get the memo that the Grand Opening isn't until February 2016. As luck would have it, while reading Ebony on the plane ride over I ran across an ad for an exhibit on David Adjaye at the Art Institute of Chicago. David is actually the architect of the new Smithsonian museum (Adjaye Associates) so it made for a perfect plan--I'd make a beeline for the museum once I was settled and see as much as possible. I checked my luggage, did a quick walking tour of the city, then headed for the Art Institute when it opened.

Dayka Robinson, Art Institute of Chicago 2015
Dayka Robinson, Art Institute of Chicago 2015
Dayka Robinson David Adjaye Smithsonian National Museum African American History, Art Institute of Chicago 2015
Dayka Robinson David Adjaye Smithsonian National Museum African American History, Art Institute of Chicago 2015

(A model of the actual Smithsonian museum)

Dayka Robinson David Adjaye exhibit, Art Institute Chicago 12:2015
Dayka Robinson David Adjaye exhibit, Art Institute Chicago 12:2015

Seeing the notes, sketches, renderings & models of David's projects over the last 15 years was an incredibly in-depth way to learn about his work. I was bummed about missing the museum in DC but as a creative--having the opportunity to intimately explore the process of a fellow creative is priceless! And this unexpected experience is one of the things I love about traveling solo & leaving wiggle room in your plans--you can always find a way to take advantage of your layovers and get out to see something new! If you travel with an open mind, the journey will always lead to an adventure . I never would've known this much about his body of work had I missed the exhibit so it was definitely time well spent! I ended my Chicago tour with some deep dish pizza (not a fan!) and then Uber'd back to the station just in time for my next departure.

Amtrak California Zephyr Roomette 2015
Amtrak California Zephyr Roomette 2015

(Two seats facing each other that turn into a bed at night + an upper bunk for a second traveler, extra gear, etc. Your Amtrak attendant will make your bed every night around 8-9pm!)

Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015-2
Dayka Robinson Amtrak California Zephyr 2015-2

Once I boarded the California Zephyr in Chicago I settled into my Sleeper Car and was introduced to Al, my Sleeping Car Attendant, who provided service all the way to California. Traveling by train isn't the standard mode of travel anymore and I'm so glad I did it with my own room. Private quarters, separate bathrooms, showers, individual temperature controls,  breakfast, lunch & dinner in the dining car included (omg, I ate like they were forcing me to!), meal service in your room (if you so choose)--everything was covered. Going First Class isn't cheap but let me tell you, it's worth your pennies for the longer rides! I sat in my Roomette as the train pulled away from the station and seriously felt giddy (which is a word I rarely use). I felt like a boss for pulling this trip off, not because it was so "difficult" but because one day I decided to fulfill a dream of riding the train cross country & a few weeks later I booked myself a ticket and did it! Traveling to Istanbul opened my eyes to how much there is to experience in this world & how easy it is to make travel a priority and I promise--since I've awakened to that fact (and made a decision to GO!), opportunities are coming at every turn. The last few months have been hectic & filled with work and I'm learning that I don't function well with stress, so this trip was just the break that I needed. I loved sitting in the Observation Car late at night with my blanket, reading in the silence and lying in bed, watching Colorado fly by, felt like I was being transported back in time (Al would joke with me, "Are you gonna get up??" LMAO).  The people that I met (those whose names I remember!) each defined specific sections on my trip--Dr. Larry in Iowa, Danny from Chicago, Najla & Michael from San Francisco, Adam in Colorado, the ticket agent in Grand Junction. And you know what I talked about with these people? Deep stuff, like taking care of your money so your money takes care of you. Medical school. God. Religion. Marriage. Blended families. Amtrak. Politics. Freighthopping. Choosing not to have children. They all let me into their lives in intimate ways that you can only do with strangers and they're the kinda connections I live for.

Dayka Amtrak California Zephyr Observation Car
Dayka Amtrak California Zephyr Observation Car

When the train pulled into Reno I decided to jump off to surprise my BFF, stay the night and catch the next train out the following day. I ended the Zephyr in Sacramento (spent my layover at the California State Railroad Museum which was the perfect use of time) then rode a different train down to Fresno, where I grew up, for what was supposed to be a one night layover (more on that later). If I have any complaints about my trip it was that it wasn't long enough. I was constantly torn between hanging out in the Observation Car meeting people vs lying in bed & reading so an additional day on my trip would've been perfect. Would I do it again? Absolutely, except next time I'd go from New York to San Francisco, New Orleans to Montreal or San Diego to Vancouver. You can say I'm addicted, partly because I love the train and partly because this kind of travel just changes who you are. Once you've traveled somewhere new--especially when you're doing something that stretches you beyond your comfort zone--you can NEVER go back to being who you were when you left.  Completing this trip gave me the courage to book one of my dream trips....you're gonna die when you find out where I'm going next.

Until then, I took a few of my 67 videos (LOL) and made them into a little montage of my trip. Click below to see!

TIPS FOR TRAVELING SOLO INTERNATIONALLY LIKE A BAD ASS

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Embarking on a solo adventure clear across the world is one of the most exciting things you can do for your personal growth. It's okay to feel a little nervous but if you're thinking about booking a jaunt of your own, don't let fear keep you from sealing the deal! Part of the reason that I was able to successfully travel to Istanbul alone is because I made sure to take as many safety precautions as I could up front so I could travel with peace of mind (mostly). ;-) Fresh from my trip here are my tips on how to make the best of your solo international excursion and travel like the bad ass you are!

  1. Register with the US Embassy. I've traveled out of the country before and never done this prior to my trip to Istanbul because I was always traveling with a partner or meeting someone at my destination. Traveling alone, however, is another story and this tip is especially important if you're traveling alone. In the event of an emergency, registering with the US Embassy at your destination lets the officials know that a US citizen is in the country and helps them quickly & easily notify you/your family in the event of an emergency (natural disaster, etc.) through the STEP program (Smart Travel Enrollment Program). Sure, emergencies don't happen very often but when they do, it's good to know that someone knows where to find you ASAP. If you have any issues while you're traveling, always call the embassy. And make sure to check the current travel warnings for your destination city prior to departure.
  2. Always carry a written copy of the phone number and address number to where you are staying. Phones die. Break. Get lost/are stolen. Fall in the ocean while on a ferry boat. Think ahead and make sure you have directions with you in a safe place somewhere outside of your phone. This tip especially comes in handy when you're staying at an Air BNB versus a local hotel. This didn't occur to me until I was out in the street and taxi drivers wanted to know where I was staying--I couldn't just say the name of a hotel (because I wasn't staying there!) and I couldn't pronounce the long names of the streets nearest to where I was staying. Luckily, upon my arrival my host handed me a business card that had all of the information I needed to contact him. Each night that card was my lifeline to get home so I always made sure to have it in my purse at all times (write down the number/address to the Embassy as well!).
  3. If you get lost/need a taxi/need a translator, head to your nearest hotel. Most hotels cater to tourists so this is a great place to stop if you're out in the streets and need assistance--you'll almost always be sure to find someone who speaks English behind the front desk as well.  My first night in Istanbul I "randomly" met a front desk attendant standing outside of his hotel who mentioned that if I ever needed a taxi, I could come back and he would get one for me. Not 15 minutes later I found myself having a hard time getting taxi drivers to agree to take me to the address on the card, so I went back to that hotel and Mehmet walked me across the street to a taxi and told the driver where I needed to go (in much better Turkish than I ever could've managed). Due to his central location (& friendly nature) he quickly became an asset (and a friend!) throughout the duration my trip. Nothing is random, of course.
  4. Dayka Robinson Designs Marrakech Morocco Adventure 2016 Mosque
  5. Don't underestimate a smile. Especially when you're in a country where few people speak English. While in Turkey I encountered a lot of people who outright stared at me--blank, unemotional face and all. It made me super uncomfortable at first, then after a few days I started to think more about how MY face was looking to them. And I know that people were looking at me because I look different that what they're used to--from my brown skin, to my long braided hair, to the fact that I was traveling alone--and it occurred that they were looking at me because they were curious. Remember on Instagram when I mentioned being accosted by a group of moms to take pictures with their kids outside of Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque)? That all happened because I saw the young girls & their mom continuously staring at me. After I offered a smile (and pointed to my hair), the little girl nodded and a huge smile spread across her face. They didn't speak English at all but I was able to gather that they wanted to have their picture taken with me, so I obliged them. All because I broke the ice with a smile. It was interesting to see how many people appeared more welcoming after I smiled or gave a wave so don't underestimate the power of a smile. Be who you want to encounter. 
  6. Always carry a portable charger. Always. There is nothing worse than being out in the streets, in a foreign country, with a dying battery on your phone. It's a huge safety no-no and if you're using your phone as your camera--like I was--it's a total nightmare when your phone dies and you have no way to capture those once in a lifetime memories!  Even when you're in the US, a portable charger is a god-send when your phone gets low and you find yourself without a USB cord.  Let's face it--there's just need to be walking around with a dead phone these days....unless, of course, you want to.
  7. Istanbul Eminonu 2015 Dayka Robinson
  8. Learn a few basic words/phrases in the local language. This is something I should've done but didn't. Traveling to a country where I had zero experience with the local language (Turkish), it became apparent that failing to learn even the most basic phrases is actually a bit inconsiderate & rude. It doesn't help that there's often a perception of Americans that we travel with the expectation that everyone should know English wherever we are--which I witnessed with my own eyes. If I could even fix my lips to say I spoke a second language it would be Spanish--the pronunciation of which is much easier to me than Turkish--so I made an assumption that I could just learn the language on the go but that wasn't the case. Be a courteous traveler & teach yourself how to say a few words in the local language like hello, goodbye, good morning, thank you, and maybe even how to ask for help. Even if your pronunciation isn't 100%, the gesture will be appreciated & you'll find it incredibly handy as you navigate your travels. 
  9. Take advantage of the disconnect. By far, one of the unintended highlights of my trip was the fact that my phone only worked as long as I was connected to WiFi. This meant that when I was out during the day, I didn't have access to ANY social media so I couldn't peruse Facebook while my taxi driver drove me home, check Instagram as I rode the Metro through the city or text message my friends while I waited for my breakfast/lunch/dinner to arrive. And you know what happened when I didn't have my face in my phone every 15 seconds? I paid attention.And interacted with strangers.And met an incredible Spelman sister on a random street corner, all because I was being present. It gave me time to think about my next steps, reflect on my business and really absorb the culture of the city in an uninterrupted manner. One of the main points of vacationing by yourself is to be WITH yourself--not constantly checking in with everything that's going on back home (the place you're supposed to be taking break from). You're the best company you'll ever have, so take advantage of it as much as you can.
  10. Book a food tour.  One of the best ways to learn about a country/culture is through its food and if you can only book one tour on your trip, consider making it a food tour or cooking class. During my 5 hour tour with Turkish Flavours I tasted all kinds incredible local Turkish cuisine and was able to experience the city in a way I wouldn't have been able to on my own. A food tour is also a great way to see how the locals live as your guide will often take you through markets in neighborhoods filled with residents doing their everyday shopping. An added bonus? Because these markets are often off the beaten path it will translate into better deals for you! During my tour of the Asian side of Istanbul I scored a Pink Himalayan Salt Bar for $3TL which equals about $1.07 USD. 2 days later I bought the same bar from the Spice Market--a tourist area--for $10TL ($3.57 USD) which is still a deal but.....I'd much rather pay $1. Next time I return I'll know exactly where to go!
  11. Dayka Robinson Bali Woman Solo International Black Woman Travel Ubud Paradise Room 2016
  12. Bring a ring. If you're a woman traveling alone, consider bringing a faux wedding ring along for the journey. Even if it's a basic gold washer from the hardware store that can do double duty as a wedding band, buy it & carry it in your purse at all times. You don't have to wear it (or can take it off whenever you need) but it's ALWAYS good to have. I can't tell you how many people--especially men--wanted to know where my husband/friends were and if I was traveling alone. After awhile I just started telling people that I was meeting a friend at another location because it occurred to me that I could be unintentionally making myself a target. Most of the time it was just innocent inquisitive conversation but there a few conversations, particularly with 1 cab driver, that got my antenna up and had me thinking that a ring would be a great thing to have. Leave the feminist pride at home and, if someone asks and you feel uncomfortable/don't want their attention, tell them you are married. With kids. There are still a lot of places in the world where this means something, and it was my experience that the men would back off immediately.
  13. Use cash if you can. Swiping your card in foreign lands makes you much more susceptible to fraud while away so use cash whenever possible. Depending on the exchange rate, start out with about $300 USD you can exchange at the airport, then use a local ATM to take out cash as needed. Not only does dealing with cash help you keep track of your spending but if you bank with Chase (like I do) they'll refund all foreign transaction fees incurred at an ATM once you return stateside.  Keep in mind that they can't do this for POS (point of sale) transactions, as the fee is added into the charge, so in this case using cash can actually save you money. Not a Chase customer? It's worth a trip to your branch to find out if they'll extend this courtesy to you as well.
  14. Find a mall. Yup, I'm serious. It seems basic and very "American", but if you're like me and enjoy seeing how the locals live, the mall can be a great place to visit. You'll get a chance to tour the city en route to your destination, experience local architecture, see retail brands we probably don't have here in the US and it's always a safe bet for the days when your plans didn't turn out like you expected. Not to mention, malls are generally safe places for solo travelers.
  15. Take pictures. Of yourself, yes, but consider taking pictures for other people as well--I must've taken at least 40 pictures for strangers while I was in Istanbul. As I toured different areas I constantly saw couples alternating taking pictures of each other in front of special sites, entire families trying to fit in a picture on a selfie stick or even a few solo travelers who looked like they really wanted their picture taken but were afraid to ask. Were there language barriers? Absolutely. But one thing you'll find about offering to do something nice for others--no matter what language they speak, your kind gesture won't go unnoticed. Everyone was so grateful that I offered to take their picture (and took several at that!)...it felt good to know that such a small gesture on my part could help people memorialize a special moment/trip.
  16. Dayka Robinson Paris 2015-5.JPG
  17. Give yourself permission to feel scared. Feeling scared is only a feeling (which doesn't make it true!) and it's only natural--you're in a new land where you don't speak the language with zero friends, navigating your way on your own. It's unrealistic to expect that you'll feel comfortable all of the time....plus, traveling alone inherently means you're bound to be a bit uncomfortable in the process so just lean in! Learning how to navigate on your own will give you a new level of self-confidence that just can't come any other way....and it will also make you mindful of how much we all tend to default to sticking to our comfort zones in our daily lives. Take this time to consciously stretch your limits & live a little! You'll never, EVER, regret spending money on an experience that honors the core of who you are. 

Happy Traveling!