I Did It On The Cheap Too!

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Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ was a MUST see for me!

Recently an article was shared about affordable travel to 16 places around the world. I checked it out and saw I’d visited 8 of them…and on the chizzeap! So here’s my $0.02 on what I remember-use what speaks to you. There are lots of great resources out there, so I’ll try to err on the side of brevity.

1. Where you at?! Admittedly, I had the financial advantage of being on the Eastern Hemisphere when I planned both of my backpacking journeys, so the places I wanted to visit were close. But if that’s not your story, this might help…

2. Where you tryna go?! My 2nd backpacking trip was a lil more strategic compared to my first (ask later lol). I looked at a map (upon a good friend’s suggestion) and made a list of all the places I wanted to visit from where I was currently, and planned from East to West (or farthest location to home).

3. How much you willing to spend?! I envisioned what I wanted to spend in total (transport, accomodations, food, tours, etc) and tried to stay within +/-$200 of that. Do what works for you tho!! This was about 2 yrs ago. Research and ask ppl about the costs in those places and put a dollar amount in your head of what you’re realistically willing to spend overall.

4. Can I Afford the Flight Tho?! If you’re coming from the states and plan to go to somewhere like Thailand-the initial flight could be costly (I mean Thailand is far and gas ain’t free) but now you have these sites with glitch fares and stuff! Back in my day, that was rare! lol skyscanner.net helped me out tho…and @racheltravels on IG http://www.racheltravels.com is a great resource, and for the FAMU folk, she’s an alumna!

5. Dope experiences, dope accomodations or both?! That depends on you, know yourself! But if you wanna travel fancy, then stop reading here.  I just wasn’t that person, so I can’t speak to that, but I had some hella fly experiences! Y’all saw the pics 😉

6. Can’t knock the hostel! Before 2014, I knew nothing about hostels (think mostly shared resting space w/o some hotel luxuries), but thankfully I didn’t let my ignorance stop me from trying a new thing!  As a solo woman traveler, meeting new people and getting helpful suggestions was major in me seeing some world-hostels, provided that for me! Hostelworld.com was a great resource at the time! Super honest, useful reviews, with options and prices that work for most! I’ve stayed in over 10 hostels, home stays, etc. and never had a bad experience…okay except for that one insect bite but hey, it healed 😂!

7. Got a friend where you’ve never been?! Hit em up! Ask if you can stay for a few, help out with groceries or something, be a great house guest, and keep it moving! (I’ve never done couch surfing but I know folk who have and it worked for them).

8. Conserve here, splurge there! If you save on accomodations, you can splurge on the good stuff! Like a great meal, massage, overnight tour, or whatever else speaks to you! But go online (think groupon-esque) in the places you visit, ya might find some deals!

9.  Be strategic wit yours! If you’re a solo traveler like I was, try to link up with people (hostels are great for this) to do a group tour or ride share or anything that cuts your costs!! Memba that time I spent the night with a stranger in Chiangmai?! Slept with one eye open 😛, but saved money!

10.  Don’t hold it in!! Bathrooms look different in different parts of the world, especially the free ones (yes, some cost minimal amounts, but holding it costs more!) just remember their function, bring your own wipes, sanitizer, and handle ya biz.

11. Life happens. Don’t overplan. Have a plan, but be flexible.  Sometimes you gotta get there and navigate as you go, which were some of my best moments.

12. Don’t let the internet scare you!! …So those major attractions like Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat and all that?! Well some you need to book in advance, but for the ones I just mentioned-I made it happen when I got there! Going online beforehand can be pricier and some advice might have you like 😑. So don’t be afraid to make the journey your own!! If I did it solo with no blueprint, you dang sure can make it hap!! Utilize your hostel too!

13. Thailand to Cambodia to Vietnam on the bus?! For the low?! That’s what I did! Bangkok is a major hub! Don’t think about it right now, get there and then do it…’everything you did has already been done!’ And people will help you!!! Humanity exists!

14. Barter much?! I ever tell y’all bout the time when I stayed at this hostel for free in exchange for an English lesson?! And I didn’t seek that out!

15. Be insured! My second go round, I purchased travel insurance. I know how to stay safe, but life…and I wanted to make sure my fam had peace of mind. Costly, but worth it for me.

16. Try not to take cabs! Yes, get on the tuk tuk, motorbike or a unique ride experience but after that, get a map, use ya feet and navigate!

17. Eat local! I mean yes, KFC’s chicken in other countries is real and the menu is different, but have one of those moments, then eat with the people! Authentic and cheap! After all, what are you really there for?!

18. Pack light or it’ll cost ya! You tryna be cute or see some world?! Cuz you can buy cute stuff when ya leave the states😉. Backpacks (tho not a fan) are quite resourceful!

19. Debit or Credit?! Handle bank stuff before you go! You’re grown, you know what to do! But make sure you have cash to exchange when you get to the respective spots! Sometimes the rates outside the airport are better, sometimes.

20. Again, do what speaks to you!! I went to Antelope Canyon with my homegirl instead of Grand Canyon, cuz that’s what spoke to me! My first Navajo reservation (s/o Ken’s tours) and it was probably cheaper!

21.*Bonus-check out reputable volunteer opportunities-a great way to embrace the culture and in exchange, you could get free lodging-I did!

 

 

 

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August 2016- Home Schooled!

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I look tired and a mess! Sometimes the victory story ain’t cute, but it’s still a win!

I wrote this post in late April, almost a year since I came home, with the intent of sharing when I passed my road test in June…yet here it is August! lol…but Glory to God, on 8/26/16, it finally happened…Home is certainly schooling me! Some lessons below, maybe they’re for you too…

1. Pray it, speak it, write it, fight to believe it, go forth in it (all things positive, that is). Whatever your IT is, live like it’s happening. Romans 4:17…reminds us to believe in the ‘God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.’

2.  Sometimes I gotta just do and work it out as I go! Planning and preparedness are great, but it’s not always the best way to get a thing moving. Don’t overthink the process too much A! (thanks for the reminder, Diane)

3. Know your strengths and know when you don’t got it…then ask for help daggone it! I mean we’re made for community and not asking (the right folk) doesn’t make you strong, it can actually make you less efficient.

4. People will be disappointed with you (or me ;-)…and I, with them. Happens. Trying to be a better human, but thankful for Jesus.

5. Who said “there is an upside to a down season”?!? Well, thanks for that word-I experienced it!

6. Joyce Meyer (who I don’t really rock with-nothing personal, just me pre-judging lol) came into my living room one day and said ‘Be careful about flirting with sin…don’t just live for this one emotional moment, later on is gonna come.’ Well dang Joyce! No one invited you tho.

7. God’s calendar really does trump mine…it’s that patience part tho. Yes, James 1:2-4, I got it, dang!

8. Joyce also said (the same day she wasn’t invited)…’Sin will always cost more than you intended to pay.’ Sigh…I know about it.

9. Don’t hide or be ashamed of your truth! I been through 2, maybe 3 thangs in life 😉, you prob have too…I’m learning that someone needs that testimony in a way that only you or I can share.

10. We really don’t know when it’s our time. Handle family affairs! Who’s the POA? Who’s on the proxy? Life insurance, anyone? I got work to do in these areas, so this is a serious reminder for me.

11. You def can’t win if you haven’t sent out an application. Rejections/losses happen, stay in the game!

12. I failed my road test so many times that my final examiner (God bless you for witnessing my ugly cry, Ms.Natalie) tested me before and I didn’t even remember! lol! Not giving up means a lot more to me today.

13. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense…maybe on the other side?

14. Who said women are great multitaskers? Cuz not all of us, *raises hand in hopes of forgiveness ✋🏿

15. If you’re ( sorry, I’m 😉) waiting on someone’s approval/acknowledgment, etc., I might as well throw in the towel….but since that’s not an option, lemme encourage myself!! Easier said right?…but still pressing.

16. I gotta participate in worship despite how I feel. Otherwise, why do it, right?

17. When people see me, they don’t necessarily see strength, and God has shown me, that, THAT (caps to avoid confusion lol) is a strength!

18. Happiness, like trouble don’t last always, so enjoy those happy MOMENTS, cuz they are just that (sorry to disappoint lol), but I’m learning to ride along, as long as I remember God in it.

19. Working to be sincerely grateful for the “not yets” that I think are “no’s”.

20. Being back home has been a blessing and overall I think I’ve adjusted well. I still miss it tho…

 

May-Month 9-Special Delivery, I’m Home!!

Peace, BKNY! *kuuproductions.com helped me warm up to the cam!

Peace, BKNY! (kuuproductions.com helped me warm up to the cam!)

Grateful to be home safe and especially grateful for all of your prayers and encouragement-thank you! This post is dedicated to HOME! BKNY!

1. People still angry on the B54! I def got a chuckle out of it this time.

2. After a 14 month fast from alcohol, it tastes extra strong now, so far I’m ehh on it.

3. God reminded me not to get too comfortable, change is constant.

4. I won when the homeless gentleman told me “Hey soul sista, you rockin it girl, makes my eyes very happy!” Home.

5. A cabbie spoke to me in Arabic, never happened before…is it that obvious?!

6. Brooklyn-I love you, but watching you change like this hurts my heart.

7. NY is tryna take all my money!! Gotta be strategic about this spending.

8. Things change and stay the same. Home.

9. I binge watched Empire when I got back, I get it y’all!

10. Thankful for family that will hook up your grooming needs! Mommy, Judy, and Diane-I appreciate that y’all love me and wanna keep me fresh!

11. I’m trying to eat better-it’s not cheap, but I trust it will be worth it.

12. Thankful for the reminder of Psalm 51:10-I need that, especially here!

13. How come I’m the only one wearing my winter jacket??! It’s cold y’all! lol

14. They posting rules and pictures of how to act on the train now??!! I guess it has to be explicit :-/

15. Pacing myself here-y’all be doing too much-okay okay, that was me 14 months ago! 😛

16. Thankful for difficult, but honest conversations-I must be growing up a bit!

17. NY rats are way too healthy!! What gives??!!

18. Transitioning back to home MY way, helped ease the process!

19. Had a convo with the elders my first Sunday back in church. That’s wisdom that we need and won’t be here forever-let’s take time to listen.

20. I also won when someone told me “you look like a baby” after checking my ID, shout out to the ancestors for that Good Black!

21. There is still no place like home and something so sincere and inexplicable about that hometown love-thank you for the warm homecoming!

 

April-Month 8-Almost Due!

1. No camel kicks or desert bbqs, but a beautifully, simple birthday was had! 4/4 Baby!

2. There was an eclipse on my birthday and a stranger sang to me-the little things!

3. You get what you pay for, like the $8 facial I got in Thailand-Johnson& Johnson products tho?! At least there was no skin whitening ingredients! I know how Asia do!

4. The last week of my CELTA course was tough for me; something about seeing the finish line but not yet touching it.

5. I always get nervous about leaving a familiar place and figuring out how to navigate the next, but I’ve been doing it for a few min now, so Ima keep going.

6. People want to be heard, I need to take time to listen.

7. The only thing I knew for certain last February was I’d be in Saudi Arabia. A lot can happen in 365.

8. Streaming my home church on Resurrection Sunday-comfort food!

9. Still pressing toward the mark of completing the Old Testament by the time I come home (let’s see where I am by the time I release this…*Isaiah, still encouraged!)

10. I’m clear, God is always with me! Physically doing it all solo gets frustrating at times tho.

11. Grateful for consistency in friendships! The people I expected to hear from-I did, and even people I didn’t expect to hear from, checked on me-thank y’all!

12. Met a man from Alaska who killed a grizzly bear, a woman who lives on a boat, and an undertaker!!!!!! My life??!! Did you know they’re allowed to kill 2 grizzlies/year in Alaska??! And there’s more Grizzlies than people in certain areas-no and thank you.

13. Machu Picchu-I said I would and did, praise and glory to God!

14. My interactions with white/European people stand out as some of the worst parts of my overall experience. Honest.

15. There’s something I love, yet is very uncomfortable about a place that speaks no English and you’re forced to speak the native language-Gracias Peru!

16. Madrid was cool, but I realized in my travels I’m not moved by big cities-hek, I’m from the best big city there is 😉

17. When people ask you for directions in Spanish and you front like you know what you’re talking about ✋🏿

18. In need of a makeover when I get home (the backpacker, nature lover look ain’t cute, plus I’m older) but Damali said “rustic” is cool so take it easy on me y’all! 🙂

19. While I’m in Cusco, Peru complaining cuz I’m freezing, a friend shared some challenging responsibilities she was met with back home. Perspective. Don’t know what’s waiting for me on the other side, but trusting God will prepare and equip.

20. Turbulence on a plane will remind you who controls your destiny! Psalm 56:3

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March-Month 7: Nearing the Last Stretch…

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Did this really happen??!!

 

1. The ‘you’re here by yourself?’ question still has me like ‘and why not!!? lol but I proudly answer yes and move on!

2. I don’t subscribe to bucket lists.  If you do, cool.  I just put enough expectation and pressure on myself to add that to the mix.

3. Dubai doesn’t speak to my spirit.  Lots to do and see, but as far as unique culture… For me-no.

4. Much improved from when I left NY, but I’m simply not a good packer y’all!! Trai, thanks for getting me outta Saudi!! 😉

5. Unexpectedly bartered my English skills (if you call them skills lol) in exchange for an accommodation in Thailand! I know, pretty impressive!  

6. I miss not spending money.  Saudi spoiled me!

7. Food poisoning and flights are never a good combo! Bless the Lord for flight delays tho!!(If you’re REALLY interested I’ll fill you in lol!)

8. Ever sleep with a stranger in an unfamiliar place? Yeah, me too. (Calm down folks, it reads way more exciting than it is!)

9. I miss my Saudi people and church already!

10. Sooo nervous about the intensity of this course I’m about to take, but you can do it A! (*the update is I DID IT!! Praise God! Ps138:8)

11. Biggie was on to something when he said ‘Only make moves when ya heart’s in it’…Tho my caveat would be ‘when God’s in it’.

12. Thailand will force you to take multiple showers a day!! I never sweat like this in Saudi!

13. God’s love transcends language barriers! Hallelujah is the same in every language!

14. Writing this in the local park, feeling like a local!

15. Thailand-one of the few places I’ve experienced where people publicly appreciate my size.

16. Got up close and personal with some elephants-the beauty and sadness in their eyes is captivating. Please reconsider before choosing to ride elephants!!

17. I went to church in Thailand where the Christian population is about 0.5%….Okay God!  

18. This course has me re-evaluating all my sentences.   My blog is a rebellion against grammar rules. Haha!

19. I’m not in the weight class to be experimenting with food everyday! Sometimes I wanna know I’m gonna eat it and enjoy!

20. Before I left Saudi, I was told, “God has gone before you.” And surely He has! 

February-Month 6- Back in the Discomfort Zone?!?

1. On February 12th, my last day at work in KSA, God reminded me that I am loved and to speak life to people.  Excited to share that story in person!

2. Psalm 104 (as my friend Anita says) is DELICIOUS!! You gotta read it!!!

3. I believe the young women I encountered in the classroom will change KSA for the better!  I see it already!

4. Meaningful, quality, 1-1 convos are so special to me. Quality>quantity fo sho’!

5. Why is this man clipping his nails in church??!! We can hear that!! Yes, I wrote this part in church.

6. Even when you do your part in a timely fashion, it don’t always work like that.  This experience has forced me to sit down (uncomfortably:-/) and wait. James 1:4 tho.

7. Mothers are awesome!! Dads too, but mommies of multiples??!! The food source??!! Y’all got a job!! Salute.

8. Buying insurance will remind you of your age!! Why mine gotta be so high doe??! Cuz I’m lightly seasoned 😉 But seriously, travel insurance is worth the extra peace for you and your fam.

9. I don’t know how I’ll feel when I leave this place, but right now I’m okay! Busy-ness helps.

10. I’m on the road to home!!! Going to a few more places.  First for work, then for play-live while I’m living right?!

11. I will miss the worship experience and fervent desire/expectancy for God at GOC.  I pray I continue to change for the better.

12. S/o to Talijah who said pack light and Angela who said pack early! I didn’t implement those strategies when you told me to, but I’m trying harder this go round!

13. February 25th (as I’m typing) is my Saudiversary!! I’ll leave two days later.

14. I feel like it’s been longer than a year-like I have a totally different life right now, it’s been awesome!!!

15. I loved living with all women, I really did. I lived with a great group of people, which I know helped.  I’ll miss them and house mother always making food for the family! Special times 🙂

16. This one’s for me-write the goals down, prioritize, and if you don’t check them off today, as long as God gives life tomorrow, handle it. It’s okay if you don’t get through the whole list in a day A! #encourageyourself

17. I love that I’ve witnessed the historical/political sides of the countries I’ve visited on this journey, I want that to continue.

18. Words have power.  I casually said (albeit a few times) that I want to experience a concert overseas (the crowds just look more excited!) and on 2/27, I’ll be watching John Legend and Esperanza live in Dubai!!

19. I’ve received God’s grace, mercy, and favor on another level since I left the US and at times, I feel spoiled and undeserving, but God’s ultimate gift is LOVE, so I’m grateful and pray I use it all for His glory…No good thing will He withhold from those who walk upright (Ps 84:11) I’m trying.

20. Transition and the unknown are scary (I hate scary movies!!lol), but God’s peace and lead help me breathe a lil easier.

Last Days in Saudi!

Last Days in Saudi!

January 2015-Month 5-Game Change

Last year was so beautiful and just like that...2015!

Last year was so beautiful and just like that…2015!

1. Attended my first ever watch night service! Never went to the late service at EBC, so doing it here was really special and fun!

2. Starting 1/1/15 by oversleeping, waking up in a panic from a nightmare, and almost missing the bus to work, is NOT the business!! God, I’m trusting it gets better!!!

3. Hosted my first Kwanzaa gathering on New Year’s Day, real intimate, real significant.  Thankful for good folk who inspire me.

4. Made chocolate chip cookies (from scratch) that I thought were a bust, but my people asked for more!! I still need a do-over, but who knew I could make edible stuff in the kitchen??!! God.

5. For me, 2014 was my Illmatic/Miseducation/Good Kid Madd City year (y’all know Ihiphop) 😉 So the expectancy for 2015 is crazy, but God keeps reminding me to chill with that…this is a journey.

6. Some know I usually have a fitting hip hop reference for many things, but it would just be awkward to throw that into convos here.  Anyway the good news is I’m getting there with bible verses too! God is working!

7. I’m listening to The Best of Sade as I write this.

8. I got excited for all of US traveling on those cheap flights!!! Let’s normalize this worldwide thing!

9. God willing, in a few months, I’ll be reunited with my hometown! Cheah!!

10. At the same time, this experience has become a journey, not a contract, so I’m in no rush to put dates on this.  I lived methodically before, but in this moment, I’m tryna be present in the newness.

11. I’m thankful I’m still on this journey.  I traveled so much in so many ways last year and God kept me. Traffic out here is dangerous so I don’t take traveling mercies for granted.  Prayers always appreciated!!

12. I LOVE that the sun shines everyday here!!!

13. I’m excited about YOUR 2015! For real!!!

14. Testimony-last month I got to tithe for the first time since I left and really!! I was so grateful to say thank you in the smallest way. Everything I am and have is because of God. I think I’m caught up now 😉

15. God showed me a tangible reminder to live right (wasn’t me this time, whew!!! but I ain’t exempt!) Sin can have a major domino effect.  Lord, I need your help, draw me close to you!

16. I look at myself less in the mirror.  When I do look though, I notice differences (I mean we supposed to age!!!) Not bad, but different, change happens. Accept and move forward.

17. I was blessed to experience a Somali wedding in Saudi, Muslim style!!!

18. Didn’t think saying I’ll be leaving Saudi early would be a conversation I’d have, but thanks to a learning opportunity, I’m out a lil earlier, stay tuned for the next…

19. At certain times/ages, people (self included) have certain expectations for where we should be in life, but who made those rules? Is everyone supposed to live that way?? I’m really trying to listen hard and take my cues from God.

20. Grieving abroad is harder in some ways than being near.  Nneka Fritz, your being blessed my life and still inspires me to keep living, traveling, and making this time meaningful, so I thank God for the life you LIVED (you lived sis!!!) and I feel good knowing that I shared my admiration for you in life! The beads are in my suitcase, I will still bring them back for you.