Are you planning to go dancing in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic? Bachata and merengue both originated there, and it’s the place to go if you want to immerse yourself in a culture where people love these music and dance styles.
I spent two wonderful years living in Santo Domingo. On my small street, there were two colmados (corner stores) where bachata or merengue were played on full blast all day long. On Fridays and Saturdays, my friends and I would go from location to location to dance, drink Presidente beer, and hang out. As a dance-obsessed world traveler, I was in heaven.
So many people have reached out to me for dance recommendations that I’ve created a dance map of Santo Domingo. You can find it here.
The dance map includes information on where to:
1) Dance most nights of the week, as well as what to wear to each venue
2) Shop for dance clothes and shoes
3) Stay in the city
I also share many of my other favorite tips for having a great time dancing in Santo Domingo. The dance map is the resource I wish I’d had when I first visited the Dominican Republic and after I moved there. There are so many places to go out, but not all of those places are the best option for avid dance travelers. If you’re like me, you want to know where to go that has the best atmosphere and some great dancers. The dance map will save you time, money and energy, which is especially important if you don’t have much time in the capital!
For a peek at one of the hot spots, watch the video below. I created this video on my very first trip to the Dominican Republic when I was scouting for a future retreat, and it gives a great sense of the local vibe on a typical night of dancing in Santo Domingo.
In this post, I’ll share with you my best tips for credit card bonuses so that you’ll be ready to travel in style later in 2021. This includes a scoop on two credit cards that give HUGE RETURNS (and that even The Points Guy hasn’t featured on his site).
If you’re new to leveraging credit card reward points and bonuses, do some research. While it’s far more simple than most people expect, there is a tiny bit of a learning curve. (Also, a note for folks living outside of the US: These bonuses are often available for you, too, but perhaps not through the websites I’ll list below).
Why do I love geeking out about this subject?
It’s really friggin’ valuable: In 2021, I anticipate that I’ll complete more than $13,000 worth of travel for free. Badass, right?
It’s aligned with my values: Because I’m an entrepreneur who values adventure, freedom and wonder, travel is a critical part of my self-care. Points made it possible for me to travel back when I was just starting my business, meaning I didn’t have to sacrifice that part of my life at a time when pinching pennies was the norm. I love sharing what I know with others who have similar values.
Less physical pain: I first experienced the value of luxury travel during my trip to India in January 2019. Because I had enough points to book business class seats, I was able to lie flat for most of the journey, sleep during the flight, and eat healthy food most of the way. I arrived feeling energized and coped with the jet lag much easier. Most importantly, however, I saw that travel didn’t need to cause me physical pain. Because I have crazy low blood pressure, my body does not do well on overnight flights in economy where I have to stay upright. During trips like this, the pain in my legs is so severe that I can’t sleep and often have to spend most of my time pacing around the cabin. By the time I arrive at my destination, I haven’t slept and I’m cranky from dealing with cramping and spasms. It sucks, and it’s completely unnecessary… thanks to credit card points.
More money for what matters: As an entrepreneur, I am responsible for putting money into my retirement. By not paying for travel, I have more money to contribute to my SEPP or ROTH IRA.
Credit Cards That Are Rocking My World Right Now:
During this pandemic, I’ve opened two credit cards:
AMEX platinum (free Uber credit each month, travel concierge service, $200 airline credit, subscription to Calm, access to airline lounges and a lot more): I originally got this card because of the huge sign up bonus (75,000 points), however I’ve kept it because the benefits are just so good. Plus — HOT TIP — AMEX has been great about waving annual fees due to the pandemic. Rather than have me close my card, they gave me a $500 statement credit (the annual fee for this card is $550). While I know $550 may sound like a high price point, I believe this card more than pays for itself. The AMEX lounges at airports around the world are lovely places where you can get good food, a free chair massage, and fast wifi. I sometimes schedule longer layovers on purpose just to spend time in them. Because I would typically spend $20 – $30 on food or alcohol during a long day of travel, this bonus saves me quite a bit of cash.
Chase Sapphire (big sign-up bonus, airline credit): I’ll likely be trading this card in soon, but it’s been a great card to have thanks to the airline credit, sign up bonus, and 0 fees when I’m traveling abroad.
Rental cars, hotelsand restaurants, oh my!
I spent New Year’s Even 2017/2018 in a hotel overlooking Times Square in New York City. This was an annual tradition for some of my friends, who would pool their credit card points and rent out nearly an entire floor of the building.
Since then, I’ve also used credit card points to stay in other lovely hotels across the United States, as well as in India and Portugal. Sometimes I’ve used my points to book rooms. Other times, when I can find a great deal, I’ll book and then enjoy a free upgrade (my AMEX card gives me automatic gold status at Marriott, which means a free upgrade every time I stay).
When it comes to car rentals, some cards (I’m lookin’ at you again, AMEX!) provide complimentary membership in premium car rental programs, including special upgrades and discounts. That said, you can also use your points to book cars for next-to-nothing when you have a card like Chase Sapphire.
And finally: Restaurants. While you can redeem some points for gift cards to restaurants, you can also pay attention to which restaurants will give you a 2 – 5x return on whatever you spend.
Because of all the benefits I’ve listed, I believe it is 100% worth your time to take an afternoon to learn more about credit card points and how to use them responsibly.
DANCE IS A VIBRANT FORCE FOR CULTURAL IMMERSION DURING TRAVEL
New Book by Dance Travel Expert Spotlights How Dance Connects Travelers to Community, History, and Cultures Abroad
Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad by Founder of Dance Travel Company Releases December 2020
How can people with no shared language communicate? How can someone who has just arrived in a foreign country quickly make friends or meaningfully engage with local culture? To former professional dancer Megan Taylor Morrison, now a life coach and dance travel expert, the answer couldn’t be clearer:
In her new book Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad, Morrison demonstrates that dance can forge connections between people from different backgrounds, as well as lead to cross cultural experiences that promote greater understanding of another culture or engender tremendous personal growth for the traveler.
For many of us during the age of COVID-19, life-giving experiences are in short supply. The things we love – attending incredible dance performances, going to dance classes, or hugging people within our dance communities – feel far away. Dance Adventures brings the wonder of adventure and movement to readers, wherever they may be.
This anthology includes 19 true stories written by a diverse group of renowned performers, dedicated dance teachers, dance scholars, and other avid dance travelers who:
● Explore their craft in locations tied to their family history and discover how dance helps them connect with their heritage;
● Build bonds and community with locals through a shared love of movement; ● Challenge their assumptions, embrace the unknown and find surprising new truths by saying “yes” to spontaneous opportunities; or
● Reflect on who they are and discover how dance can make them a better version of themselves.
The contributors hail from all corners of the world, and the stories take place in 17 different countries including India, China, Senegal, Philippines, Angola, Brazil, Morocco, Cuba, China and Mozambique. Contributors include:
Courtney Celeste Spears, a dancer with the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In Dance Adventures, she writes about her experience returning to her second home in The Bahamas and serving as an ambassador between her family, her heritage, and her dance company. For Spears, dance brought the two worlds she cherished together.
Indian-American folk dancer Dr. Ted Samuel, who embarks on a year abroad in South India where his parents are from. As a member of the Indian diaspora, he initially faces the challenges of feeling like an outsider in India, but ultimately finds an important vehicle for connection in Karagattam: a traditional south Indian folk dance.
Zsuzsi Kapas, a Hungarian dancer whose family immigrated to the United States in 2000 to leave behind a life of ethnic oppression. In Dance Adventures she shares a story from her three-year journey around the world, during which she studied the healing effects of dance and movement improvisation. She writes about her time in Indonesia, where her intensive work with the creator of a dance style known as Joged Amerta Movement led to lessons that helped heal her childhood trauma.
Makeda Kumasi, who teaches West African dance classes at UC Riverside, visits Senegal for the first time. There, she fulfills her long-time dream to set foot on the land of her African ancestors and gains the firsthand knowledge she feels she needs to teach West African dance at the university level. The story highlights her final day in the country, when she visits Gorée Island and confronts the realities of the Atlantic slave trade.
Topics Megan can also address include:
● 5 Travel Hacks Only Dancers Know
● Cool Dances Around The World You’ve Never Heard Of
● Why Dance Travel is the Next Frontier of Tourism
● How Dance Changes Us: Life Lessons learned While Dancing Around the World
Each of the stories in Dance Adventures highlights a way that dance travel leads to meaningful experiences, thereby shaping a person’s identity, facilitating their personal growth, or uniting them with people from different backgrounds.
About the Author
Megan Taylor Morrison is an avid dance adventurer and certified life and business coach. She has studied local dance forms in 16 countries on six continents, as well as designed and co-led dance retreats to Argentina, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. In partnership with Melaina Spitzer, Meg debuted the talk “Dance Travel: The Next Era of Dance Education,” at the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) Conference in 2018.
Through lectures, roundtables, and articles, Meg continues to share best practices for cultural immersion through the arts. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in international affairs and French from the University of Puget Sound.
Advance Praise for Dance Adventures
“Armchair travel has never had it so good! Dropping into these cultural adventures is like landing feet first on the most dynamic dance floors around the globe. Each carefully curated story gives a dancer’s eye-view of the people, places, and practices that enrich our planet.”
—Mark Metz, publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine and founder of The Dance First Association
“This book is indispensable in light of the current social momentum with regard to Black lives and the dismantling of violent systems. Many of the stories portray the experiences of individuals in whom multiple languages, customs, and spaces coexist, and for whom dance is the unifying factor.” —Moncell Durden, Assistant Professor of Practice, USC Kaufman School of Dance
“Dance Adventures contains beautiful moments of transformation and connection through dance—a wonderful extension of Meg’s own mission. The anthology’s writers create a strong case for using dance to understand the world.”
—Mickela Mallozzi, Emmy® Award-winning TV host of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi
“I was captivated by Megan Taylor Morrison’s Dance Adventures! This vibrant and emotionally explorative collection of tales captures the power of dance in a way that transcends the stage.” —Aisha Mitchell, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member (2008–2013), Broadway soloist in Oklahoma (2019), and featured performer in The Lion King (2013–2018)
Title: Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad
Why?In my entrepreneurship mastermind, my clients and I are talking about “going big”. On our last call, one client shared a story from his weekend at a personal development seminar. The facilitator asked people to raise their hand if they were just three degrees of separation away from Oprah. Next, people raised their hand if they were three degrees of separation away from a state senator. On the facilitator went, listing major influencers — and people were raising their hands for each one! We sometimes stick with the people we know, rather than making bold moves to get our ideas/products/book in front of influencers.
I’m doing final interviews for my forthcoming book, Life Beyond Should, and needed someone to weigh in on the chapter about dharma. Why not the Dalai Llama?
The Dalai Llama hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep working my contacts to see if I can get him on the phone. In the meantime, however, I did secure an interview with a buddhist who lived in a cave for 13 years — three of those years in total isolation.
Pretty cool, right?
This is your reminder to go big. Ask for what you want and watch what you create!
A few other notes for you:
2020 Retreats: In 2020, we’ll have retreats to countries that start with a “D,” “G,” “I,” and “P.” Can you guess which ones? If you haven’t seen the video from our Dominican Republic or India retreats, definitely check them out! We will announce our 2020 retreats next week!
Authentic Leadership Group Program: Want to elevate your leadership? Add authenticity. Read more about my year-long program here.
Have you tried virtual coworking yet? If not, reply to this email and I’ll set you up with one free month!
New episode on The Thriving Creator Podcast: I speak with Emma Mankey Hidem, Founder & CEO of Sunnyside Virtual Reality, about making the transition from day job to entrepreneurship. We cover the topics of procrastination, being honest about your weak points, assessing your weak spots, legal contracts, and more. Listen here.