Updated: Feb 25, 2021
A south side of Chicago native and child of a record-breaking legend of travel and logistics, road tripping as a means of travel encompasses some of my fondest childhood memories. Transitioning into early adulthood, I got caught up in the routine of everyday life and making the mistake many do--lacking balance and signing up for the zombie nation. You know what I'm talking about. You become a member of the zombie nation when you pour all of yourself into your profession and ministry that you have absolutely nothing left for you. But, you convince yourself that you are happy and pleasing unto God by sacrificing and being God's hands and feet whenever and however you can. Sounds intense, doesn't it? Well, that was me, my life, for years. Many hard days and nights I experienced. Many disappointments I experienced all because I couldn't understand why it seemed like I could invoke faith of biblical proportions and move mountains for everyone else, but couldn't move the mountain that stood in my own way to true joy.
Then, the wind beneath my wings, my best friend, my confidant, my inspiration, my heart--of course y'all I'm talking about my Momma--had a perspective-altering conversation with me. After years of watching me give and pour into others with "thank yous" far and few in between, witnessing me deny myself time and time again and living my life in a box, she had enough! My Momma let me have it! She made me cry those ugly tears! But, truth is, I needed that tough love. What hit me the hardest was after the rhetorical questions about why do I allowed others to hold me back and steal my joy, she changed her tone and total delivery. When the woman whom I admire and thought (and still do) the world of, told me that watching me live as I spoke failure to her as a mother and woman, just broke down! I couldn't have my Momma thinking she failed all because I wasn't appreciating the life that was gifted to me (and that was very closely taken away on multiple occasions). So, I started small and found my love and zest for life and travel again.
Once, I got my passport, oh, it was on! But I had no idea that my story wouldn't take off and get interesting until my second international trip--Dubai. I was supposed to be a bae-cation with my at the time significant other but he flaked! I had a choice--forfeit ALL my coins and stay home BIG mad or live my best life and travel to the Middle East solo dolo. I went to Dubai as a single traveler, prayed up, but low-key a little nervous. I had a ball! I came back with a new sense of fearlessness and a glow that Stevie Wonder could see.
Fast forward to today, I'm still striving to achieve perfect balance while collecting passport stamps and knocking stuff off my bucket list. Studies have shown that vacationing, gaining world experiences, have numerous health benefits for our emotional, physical, and even spiritual being. Plus, in spite of common misconceptions, traveling internationally doesn't have to be a financial burden either. So, please let me share with you my travel hacks, experiences, and reviews. May this testament inspire, inform, and help you to live your best life to the fullest.
Because I truly want to be a help to all who read this blog and view the vlog on YouTube, let me share these first sets of travel hacks:
-Get you a travel agent that is all-inclusive and with a reputable agency. I have no problem sharing my travel agent. She is dope for real! Carpe Diem Travel with Chandra Smith. She is on Facebook & Instagram. She has facilitated all my international travels wonderfully even on my tight budget. But, don't put her in a small box; she also does domestic trips as well.
-Do your research before you go to a location, but don't be afraid to travel alone. I can't stress that enough. If your girls or group back out on you on a trip, don't deny yourself because of them. Live your best life with or without your crew! A saying my Dad would tell me, "Every place will provide for itself." Every trip I've taken by myself, I've met new travel companions who I'm still friends with to this day. Connecting with new people is such a massive part of any vacation, for me. Whether it is the people from the area or other travelers. Share your story, listen to theirs, vibe with one another, and have a life-enhancing shared experience with each other in a new place. What am I saying? You'll meet like-minded people wherever you go, so don't be afraid to branch out!
-Please note, when traveling internationally with melanin and of the female sex, your confidence will go through the roof! My experience is that men from other countries will run into walls, almost fall into pools, ask to take your picture, ask to take a picture with you, compliment you with great detail, and will most definitely shoot their shot in trying to get your WhatsApp info to take you out while you're in town.
-Save yourself the agony of paying for international calls and texts. Download WhatsApp and make sure where you stay, you get the Wifi info. With WhatsApp, you can video call, text, and voice call for free .99! I have T-Mobile, and I have great reception everywhere I travel (except in the United States deep in the South). I've never paid for any additional international calling packages. With T-Mobile you automatically get some data to hold you over internationally, and then they charge $0.25 per minute if you make a call. I've heard of people with other carriers having to pay $10 per day if one phone call comes into their phone while they are traveling internationally. Download WhatsApp, tell your people back at home to download it and stop wasting money on your phone that could be put towards some of your excursions or exotic eating.