It’s just about to be the most wonderful time of the year – summer travel season! Woohoo!
Have you noticed the explosive surge in women of color getting their travel on these days? I have. I think I’m in like at least 3 travel groups on Facebook, one called WOC who Travel, or something like that, and a few others, including my favorite, Travel Divas. Since I’ve been so travel focused lately, I’ve learned/become aware of a lot that I think you will appreciate. Here are some of my favorite travel tips so you can travel stress free and prepared, like a Well Diva.
- Creating a travel budget – It’s crazy to say you don’t have money to travel but you buy Starbucks on a regular basis. I’m addressing this first because it’s what most often keeps people from traveling, money. The problem is more a priority issue than a lack of funds. This is why when you plan a trip everyone is going, until it’s time to pay. The intentions are there, but the budgeting is not. Did you know 3 trips to Starbucks for a year equals about $1,000? That is enough to get you a round trip ticket to Cabo or Jamaica depending on where you’re starting, AND 3 nights at an all-inclusive resort. Who wouldn’t rather create memories of enjoying the beach and the time off than have that daily latte? It takes about 85 cents and 7 minutes to make your own latte, probably less time than driving to Starbucks even when using the mobile order app.
- Apps you should check out – In addition to the two savings apps that I’ll mention in a minute, check out some apps that will help you plan your trip activities such as The Entertainer, Groupon, and Viator. These apps give you access to activities you can purchase all over the world. Groupon and The Entertainer Travel (included with The Entertainer) list hotel discounts as well. Skiplagged and Hopper help you save on flight costs. Culture trip is an interesting app which keeps you up to date on what’s good in the location you’re visiting – like access to lists of the best restaurants and museums or best place for a photo op.
- Save without even trying- – If you haven’t noticed my posting about it in the Facebook group, I have fallen completely in love with a couple of savings apps that are helping me pay for my trips. WOOHOO! The free one is Qapital. I just discovered this app when I was gloating over Digit, the one I love but the one that recently announced they will charge $2.99 a month after your first 100 days. I say use both. Then discontinue the paid one after 100 days if you aren’t hooked. You’ll still have the free one. But honestly, I love them both. Oh, and Qapital gives you and me both $5 when you join and start saving. They both give us $5 when we refer others who sign up and save using the link they will give you, so the paid one will pay for itself if you just share the link.
- Take advantage of the monthly payment plans offered by several travel agencies and airlines. I’ll be doing my first Travel Divas trip next year. It is one of the pricier ones, but I wanted to get that Travel Divas experience for my birthday, so I went for it. The Travel Divas has been in business for 10 years and they have hundreds of photos on their website of women and a few travel dudes enjoying what they have to offer all over the world. I’ve seen a couple of scam complaints about other travel groups so with those you may want to proceed at your own risk unless you know something about them. BGTM and African American Travelers also do group trips with payment plans but I don’t know much about them. Also Gate 1 and Southwest Vacations have had pretty good reviews.
- Don’t forget the USA. While everyone is competing to collect the most passport stamps the fastest, people are
coming from all over the world to enjoy what our home has to offer. This year I’ve visited Naples, FL, The Grand Canyon, and Sedona, AZ for the first time. Each one is frequented by people from far, far away, and each one is uniquely awesome. If you’ve been everywhere but the US, you’re doing it all wrong. And if you’ve never done a staycay, that’s an awesome experience as well. I bet you have some amazing places to spend the weekend less than 75 miles from home. Have you been to check them out?
- Refer to travel groups for tips, info, and real reliable reviews from your peers. I was told to get the trip insurance by like 15 ladies in one group. I guess I’ll break down and get it. I know they have my best interest at heart.As you get to feel the vibe of the groups, you’ll discover which ones have travelers most like you, and even find new travel buddies.
- Get your docs ready. Do you have your passport on standby? I almost learned the hard way. I wasn’t planning to renew my passport until later this year. But I heard the wait to even get an appointment is 3 months in some areas. It’s best to go ahead and get your passport before you need it. You never know when some airfare error may take place and you need to book a flight to Rajastan right away! Also you’ll need a passport that expires no sooner than 6 months from your travel date for many destinations. As they say, when you stay ready you don’t have to get ready.
- TSA pre-check or Clear for domestic travel; Global Entry for both domestic AND international travel, or the Mobile Passport app for international travel – make sure you have at least one of these. Travel takes enough time as it is. You’ll want to decrease as much time spent at the airport as you can.
- Set Google alerts. If a travel warning or some event you need to know about occurs in the location you’re heading to, you’ll get an email notifying you ASAP.
- And finally, if you’ve got plenty of time between now and the date of your departure, take some time to learn a a bit about the culture. Do your research. Make sure you know about any dress code laws, PDA laws, cultural customs that you won’t want to ignore. Learn a few words. People really appreciate when you come to their country and at least TRY to speak the language. There is nothing more undesirable than a lazy American. And that’s what they think of us when we don’t even know how to say please, thank you or hello in the native language. Sure, they speak English in most countries, but it’s just good manners to show interest in the local culture and not just the tourist attractions. In some places they dress up a bit. You’ll stand out like an American tourist if you don’t know this and show up to everything in the standard ripped jeans and tee. It’s safer to blend in a bit, especially if you’re traveling solo.
Well that should get you off to a good start to the summer travel season. Now I just wanna know, where are you headed?