Food and eating was a big part of our family with regard to celebration. So, I must say that as an adult, I’ve started to learn more about what I should and shouldn’t put in my body but as a child, not so much. I wasn’t very physically active as a child. Even though I played sports, it wasn’t a focus. Now, I work out six days a week and rest one day a week. I even work out when I’m traveling.
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How to save up for traveling? What are the best hacks to traveling on a budget? What does it feel like to travel more than half of the world? What precautions to take when traveling during COVID? How to follow a healthy diet all the while traveling and eating delicious food? How to get motivated for working out? What is the true essence of self-care?
In this podcast, we got to know the ever so lovely Dr. Sheba, who is a health, fitness, and nutrition coach. She’s also the co-founder of “Road to 100 Countries” and has visited 108 countries and counting all over the world with her husband! Born and raised in New York, Sheba is a true New Yorker by heart, but her parents originate from Trinidad. Sheba is super passionate about health and traveling, pursuing her dreams all the while visiting numerous gorgeous countries. She’s also a new mom of an 11-month-old and is getting to experience mom-hood as time goes by. Let’s get into the interview now to know more about Sheba!
This episode of the Collective Drift podcast is sponsored by Truist. Truist is here for better. BB&T and SunTrust formed Truist with a shared purpose—to inspire and build better lives and communities. With our combined resources, collective passion, and commitment to innovation, we’re creating a better financial experience to help people and businesses achieve more. Go to https://www.truist.com for more information.
Here are a few of my favorite parts of the interview:
Collective Drift (CD) / Dr. Sheba (S)
CD: How would you describe yourself?
S: I’m a New Yorker, which kind of says a lot about my personality. I have a passion for health, fitness, and travel. I have a Ph.D. in health education, therefore my life is about health and I focus on health disparities. But I also have a passion for overall health, wellness, and fitness, and being physically and mentally healthy. I also love to travel and learn new things, I love to see and learn about different places and cultures. I’m also married and a new mom. I have an 11-month-old, so I’m currently learning new things about being a mom. As for the cultural aspect, my family is from Trinidad, both my parents were born and raised in Trinidad. They came over to the United States when they were teenagers who grew up listening to Soca and eating amazing food.
CD: How do you stay healthy while traveling and enjoying delicious food?
S: Food and eating was a big part of our family with regard to celebration. So, I must say that as an adult, I’ve started to learn more about what I should and shouldn’t put in my body but as a child, not so much. I wasn’t very physically active as a child. Even though I played sports, it wasn’t a focus. Now, I work out six days a week and rest one day a week. I even work out when I’m traveling. During traveling, we’re walking a lot. So, just the act of being in another country and exploring, you’re being more physically active than you typically are. But I also realized that traveling should not be an excuse to have a cheat day every day. That’s how I used to travel, because I love to try new food and I love to eat. I just kind of overindulged in food, but now I’ve scaled it back where I do indulge but in the end, it’s about balance. For example, sometimes I would have bacon cheeseburgers for lunch, but then I’m not going to overindulge at dinner, or I’ll have a really good local cuisine for dinner but then I’m not going to have too much at breakfast. You just have to balance that out a bit. And then, also try to do some work out in the room, 30 minutes of cardio workouts are what I usually do. That’s how I try to stay on target, even while traveling.
CD: As a fitness coach, how do you motivate someone?
S: The first thing that I ask my clients is: “What is your why?”. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to get fit? I ask them to think a little deeper than the superficial reasons. Not saying that your physical appearance is not important, but what’s deeper is your health. For example, diabetes and hypertension run in my family, and I’ve seen the devastating effects that they can have on people e.g. losing toes and legs, struggling, taking medication every day. Everybody’s motivation is going to be different, I can share my story and maybe that’ll help others. But my motivation may be different from yours so you have to find what that is. Then, once I know what that is, I can help motivate you and keep you on the track based on that. After that, we get to the practical things like what is your daily routine and how can we incorporate a healthier lifestyle within that routine. It just depends on your lifestyle and what you enjoy. The one thing you don’t want to do is trying to do something that you don’t even enjoy at all. So if you don’t like to run, don’t try to run because that’s not the exercise that you should be doing to be physically active. I hate running and I tried to incorporate it because it’s healthy and that’s what coaches do. They try all these different things and I hated it, so once in a while, I may go for walks with my daughter. But I like high-intensity strength training or cardio workouts that I actually enjoy because they’re quick and effective. So if you don’t mind doing 100 squats, jumping up and down, and burpees then I can suggest workouts for you to do that just to incorporate that exercise into your day.
CD: What did you learn from your mother, and the women in your life, about self-care?
S: You can learn from people not only based on what they do, but also based on what they didn’t do, but you should do. I don’t think my mom ever put herself first, she always put her kids and family first. I don’t think she put herself first in regards to self-care either, even something as simple as taking a break, taking a day off and going out, relaxing, or going for a massage. That’s just not something that she ever did or even talked or thought about. Therefore, from my mother, I’ve learned that I need to incorporate self-care more as an adult so I don’t burn out, which is something I see in a lot of mothers. I’ve only been a mother for 11 months but my entire life changed when my daughter came because now, it’s really all about her. I realized that if I don’t take care of myself then I won’t be able to take care of my daughter. So I have to incorporate self-care into my life in order to be there for her.
CD: Tell us about your company, “Road to 100 Countries”.
S: We started traveling pretty early in our relationship, we both had traveling in common. Soon, Ronnie told me that he didn’t want to repeat countries and I agreed with him. There are a total of 195 countries so we decided to see at least half of those. We also liked the song “0 to 100” and decided on this plan. After that, it was all just looking up places and traveling there on different occasions.
Regarding the company itself, we have a group on Facebook called “Road To 100 Countries” where we give tips and information over long conversations on how to do everything, regarding traveling, correctly. We also developed a course called “Tricks to Travel” that is only $19.99. We also create step-by-step videos on how to maximize points in the miles system in order to gain free hotel stays, free flights, and airline miles. That’s pretty much how we’ve traveled. We haven’t paid for a hotel in almost six years by using Hilton points and Marriott points. As for the flights, typically, depending on where it is, we probably have 60 to 70% of our flights for free. We’ve learned how to really maximize free travel by using these points in specific ways. Also, if you go to our website, https://roadto100countries.com/, you can find out about the course, our Facebook page, and our Instagram page. [Scroll to the bottom of the article]
CD: How did you do all this traveling?
S: We did a lot of timeshare promos, they have a lot of those in Mexico and in different places in the Caribbean. So that’s a great cheap way to travel if you don’t mind doing a 2-hour timeshare presentation to get a five-day all-inclusive for about $200. So, we did that a lot. Then, once we started to expand, as there’s no all-inclusive outside of the Caribbean, we had to figure out how to do this without breaking the bank. Ronnie started researching travel credit cards, hotel points, and airline miles. It was a lot of trial and error. But through a lot of research, we learned that you can earn free stays and free flights using hotel travel credit cards. So, what does that mean? One, every hotel brand and airline has free memberships. So typically, when we think about travel tips, that’s the first thing we tell people, the simplest thing to do is to sign up for every one of those free memberships, JetBlue, Delta, Hilton, Marriott, they all have free memberships. You could earn hotel points and airline miles by just being a member for every stay and for every flight. Now, in order to take it to the next level, to really get free travel, you have to get credit cards. And that’s loaded. Not everybody wants credit cards, you have to be really savvy with your money, you have to pay your bills. You can’t just go get credit cards and rack up points. So, we use them as debit cards but we don’t just pay the minimum amount, we pay full lump sums on credit cards. Anyways, we started using these cards for everyday expenses for groceries, gas, food, restaurants, even rent, and mortgage. There are ways to do that. I can’t even remember how many points we have now in Hilton, it’s in the millions, probably like 4 million Hilton points.
CD: Do you do any savings beforehand when you’re traveling?
S: Our trips are typically free for the most part besides taxes and fees, therefore we feel more comfortable with being able to spend. Ronnie’s really good at talking to people, getting deals, and getting discounts. There’s a couple of things that we do to save money e.g. by staying with Hilton or Marriott as we have the membership. With credit cards, you get perks. One of the perks is free breakfast. Wherever we go, whatever hotel we’re staying at, we always have free breakfast, so you’re saving that meal every day. A lot of these hotels also have lounges, which means that the lounges sometimes have dinner and drink, sometimes just appetizers or other snacks, so we can have snacks, water, and drinks throughout the day. So that saves some costs. Typically, we might just only eat out once a day. I like to do that because I like to go out and eat the local food. When we went to Aruba, we rented a car and did everything ourselves. That cut out the expenses of paying someone to take you everywhere. Then there are also ways to gain points even while you’re there. If we’re staying at the Hilton, we use a Hilton credit card for everything. Then, if we order, eat something or charge anything to the room, we get points. So you’re staying at the hotel for free but you’re still gaining points so that you can stay for free on your next vacation.
CD: What’s your favorite travel experience?
S: Regarding my favorite experience, I can’t choose just one. There are things that stick out in my mind. For example, if I think about my 30th birthday, we planned a Mediterranean cruise and I wanted to go to Venice. We flew into Rome and rented a smart car to drive to Venice. While driving to Venice, we stopped in the middle for gas. Everything was in Italian over there as we were outside of the city in the countryside. When we went to get gas, there were two nozzles. One said gasolina and the other said diesel. We chose gasolina, considering that it was a regular car and it is just like gasoline in Spanish. Then we started driving and all of a sudden the car started stuttering, making some sounds, and slowing down. Finally, it turns out that gasolina meant diesel in a smart car. It was the day of my birthday, the longest day ever, it was a three-hour drive from Rome to Venice at that point. So, we had to stop at another gas station and kind of just keep adding regular gas to flush out the diesel. The next day, we went to Venice, and actually, that’s when Ronnie proposed in the middle of Venice and in San Marco Square. It ended up being a wonderful day. Then, the next day we had to drive back to Rome to get to the cruise. So, we’re driving back and we get stuck on the highway. The car just died and we had about two hours to get on the cruise but we had to return the car. We called the car rental company and they came to get the car while we got on a cab on our way to the cruise. They were about to pull the anchors when we were running down the ramp to get to the cruise. Anyways, that’s one of the craziest stories that I can think of in regards to traveling. But it all turned out great because Ronnie proposed to me, it was my birthday, and we had a wonderful time after that.
CD: How are you going about traveling during the pandemic? Do you have any tips or advice?
S: Firstly, we research the country to see what their COVID cases are. For example, if they’re having any spikes or how they’re handling the pandemic in general. We also see what restrictions they have for travel, like do you have to get tested before and what are the mask mandates at the hotels and in the country, etc. Mostly, you need to have a negative COVID test three or four days before arriving. Wearing the mask is mandatory in all airlines and at airports. You have to make sure that the hotel you’re staying at has good cleaning and housekeeping practices. The second thing is flights. During COVID, I only wanted nonstop short flights no more than four hours. And right now, JetBlue and Delta are blocking the middle seats, meaning they’re not assigning middle seats to anybody and that does two things. One that it assures that the capacity is at least 1/3 less than the typical capacity, so there’s no full flight plus you’re not going to have a stranger sitting right next to you. So, those are some of the things that we think about when traveling right now.
CD: What is a question Sheba would ask other women?
S: “How do you find yourself and be yourself in a world that is still so dominated by men and masculinity?”
CD: How would you define a woman?
S: It’s freeing. It’s loving what I think about women, we are amazing creatures in so many ways. We are versatile, we are flexible, we’re able to bend backward when needed. We’re able to do multiple flips and multitask. We’re able to create life and give life and we’re able to love and be loved. We can be the executive in the boardroom and the mother breastfeeding her child. We have so many different facets, we can do so many different things, and we’re talented in so many ways. We can curse you out if you get on our nerves, we could also make you feel so comfortable and secure in the same breath. So, we’re amazing creatures.
Where to find Erica and Collective Drift
Collective Drift is now a part of Kadealo
Where to find Dr. Sheba
Places mentioned in the interview
(Check them out click on the links below)
Hilton Hotels https://www.hilton.com/en/
Marriott Hotels https://www.marriott.com/default.mi
San Marco Square https://www.introducingvenice.com/piazza-san-marco
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“So It’s a beautiful journey of life. Sometimes I think, ‘Okay, how many more years, or actionable years do I have to make an impact in this world before I move on?’. I guess [...]
The Collective Drift podcast was created by Erica Knowles to celebrate all women, the beauty of their cultures, and international travel experiences. I believe that women possess magic, that gives them strength and grace to change the world. We learn how to tap into our power in various ways based on our cultural backgrounds and our journeys. Join me and an amazing collective of multicultural, multiethnic, and multigenerational women that are artists, cultural leaders, and travel enthusiasts as they tell their stories about their culture, their tribe of women, their passions, their art, and their favorite international experiences. Welcome to Collective Drift.