1) DO YOUR RESEARCH
It’s important to do thorough research when you’re deciding to travel nationally or internationally. However, it’s more important that you’re flexible. Having background information on your travel destination such as general cost of living, places to visit, and common scams are all worth looking up in your Lonely Planet Guidebook but don’t overdo it, especially when you have to put your money where your mouth is! Outside of flight,s most things like activities and hostels can always be negotiated upon arrival. Hostels can look great online but being able to see a room or learn from locals or other travelers is always best. When I went to Dharamsala to climb the Himalaya’s I thought I needed a guide for my trek which cost almost $30 bucks. That sounds cheap but its the equivalent of 1500-1800 rupees. After talking to other travelers who had been in the town for a while they assured me that I would be fine on my own and would probably meet people along the way!
2) GET THE MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
You may hear this lot but it’s crucial that you think of unconventional travel destinations where the dollar goes far. Places in Southeast Asia and South America are best but if you’re dying to get to Europe places like Portugal, Turkey, and Croatia are more affordable than its EU partners.
3) TRAVEL OFF SEASON
This may seem like common sense but it’s not because high season is different everywhere. Most high seasons are during the summer because that’s when most Americans are on vacation but don’t let that fool you! For example, our summer is Capetown’s winter…did you know that? If you’re a budget traveler its best that you do the thorough research ( see step 1) to make sure you’re maximizing deals. Good months for most places are Sep-Nov as well as February. Random I know, but I don’t make up the rules ladies.
4) BE OPEN…YOUR BROWN-YOUR DIFFERENT
No matter what country I’ve been to I always get stares, points, people running up to me snapping pics, and the never ending “I love Obama and Kentucky Fried Chicken” remarks. If you’re traveling to Europe this may not be as bad but even in Spain I dealt with this very same thing. Embrace it. You’re brown which makes you different. Some people don’t understand the concept of black Americans, but don’t let this deter you from making the most of your trip. Take pictures and answer questions when you feel like it and keep it moving when you don’t. Remember that your trip is all about you!
5) PACK LIGHT
Most of you know this but even fabulous divas need to be reminded sometimes: do not bring anything you would hate to loose! Below is a good packing list that should keep you to one backpack or good carryon.
- 1 versatile dress
- 3 pair of pants ( jeans, tights, capri/shorts)
- 4 t-shirts ( 1 should be a nice top)
- 2 camisoles
- 1 cardigan
- 3 Shoes ( sneakers, flats, sandals)
- 1 lightweight jacket
*my favorites: 1 hat because you never know and a scarf to dress any plain shirt up and to keep you warm during chilly airplane rides*
Now homegirl, let’s not play when it comes to hair. Natural is probably the best way to go but this does mean that you have to pack products which can be a hassle . To avoid the extra baggage and maintenance try braids. It can be with your own hair or synthetic hair. Styles like cornrows, individual braids, and something a little jazzier such as crochet braids are good fixes! All will have you looking fly while you’re out exploring!
7) LIVE LIKE THE LOCALS
Last but most importantly “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. The best way to experience a country is to engage with its people and for me the best way to do this is through food and travel! The best way to eat cheap is to eat where the locals eat. Anywhere that doesn’t have a menu in English is a good start but the more obvious way is to experiment with street food! It may sound dangerous but just use your better judgment (don’t go to the stand with flies all over) and go for it! Other ways to save money on food would be to book accommodations that serve breakfast or have kitchens. Fixed menus are also a good idea and usually are 3 course meals for one cheap price! Rather than taking cabs everywhere get a bus pass and hop on…it’s always cheaper to take public transportation and it creates more opportunities for you to meet locals and other travelers.
Hopefully these tips geared you all up for your next big trip!