Road trips.

Road trips.

Covid realities are still a concern for many.  As many now contemplate travel, the option of a road trip can be an excellent choice for travel.  Road trips enable a bit more control over social distancing than air travel. So, whether for a quick weekend getaway or a weeklong trip, here are a few ideas to consider.

On a road trip, the traveler is in total control of the itinerary. The departure and arrival times of the trip are flexible, and you are free to take as many or as few stops as necessary. Overall, traveling by car gives freedom and flexibility not offered by other travel options.

You can pack as much or as little as you desire.  There are no weight limits for your luggage. Therefore, you can carry items you may not have the luxury of carrying on an airplane or ship.  However, I would strongly suggest keeping your valuable things out of sight and not exposing yourself to possible theft.

Even though a road trip will add mileage to your car, the costs are often a much better option than airplane tickets.  Considering the price of gas and having more hotel options can be a much more affordable way to travel and see the country.

Planning out a road trip is essential, especially for the driver.  Fatigue is a genuine concern, and the driver takes on a big responsibility with having passengers in the car.  A good playlist, audiobooks, and podcasts are great ways to ease the boredom of a road trip.

There are many benefits of a road trip. Road trips offer a lot of time for self-reflection.  They provide an opportunity to try something new and to find inspiration from the surroundings you pass through.  Additionally, road trips can provide a break from social media and a great way to make memories with family and friends.

Have you taken a road trip recently?  Did you like it, or do you prefer other methods of travel?  I’d like to know.

Being a Black ex-pat.

Being a Black ex-pat.

My lived experience is affected by being born in Barbados, a former international flight attendant, and living in London, Germany, and Singapore as an ex-pat. I am accustomed to being exposed to different cultures and being in spaces with people who do not look like me. Being a Black ex-pat is a similar experience as most ex-pats tend to have less melanin. Here are a few of my experiences that you might find interesting.

As a Black ex-pat, nationality has at times played an even more significant role than race. Having an American passport has occasionally lessened the impact of my skin color. Additionally, the perception of me being an ex-pat gives the assumption of certain socio-economic status. This notion seems to provide an added benefit my skin color does not always allow.

Most foreigners view black culture through what they see in media, pop culture, and their local prejudices. It’s not uncommon for someone to strategically take a picture with me in the frame. I am now not even fazed when asked to take a picture with someone. This request is much more acceptable to me than being staged in someone’s photo without consent.

Microaggression is always present. It’s a constant reality navigating other people’s perception of the black lived experience. As an educated black woman with a doctorate, I refuse to be the racial educator. It can be exhausting to explain racism when tone-deaf comments tend to be frequent occurrences.

I’m comfortable with being the only black person in the room. People often express to me their love for a famous black person. I often refer to this as the “Obama” effect. I see these expressions as people’s way of affirming their acceptance of me occupying the space I’m inhabiting and making me feel comfortable.

As a Black ex-pat, I have become familiar with being stared at. I tend to see the stares as a curiosity that lessens the discomfort I may feel. However, I have had to aggressively stare back in some instances to make people realize that I am not a museum piece.

Whether as a Black ex-pat or a frequent traveler, have you had any similar experiences? I’d like to know.

How to thrive with group travel.

How to thrive with group travel.

I wrote an earlier blog post about choosing your travel partners wisely.  Travelers may not always be able to select their travel partners with group travel.  However, there are ways to ensure your journey is pleasant and that you thrive with group travel.

Recognize your individuality.  No two people are alike. While there may be majority decisions or even unanimous decisions, all travelers have different needs.  For some travel group members, the desire is for escape, while it might be an adventure for others.  The reasons for travel are far too many, so embrace yours.

Be respectful of group members.  Even though your travel needs may be different than others, respect their needs.  Acknowledge their thoughts and ideas but state your own opinion.  If the group plans work for you, join in, and if they don’t, politely decline.

Be mindful of the advantages as well as the disadvantages.  For many, group travels can be a way to save money or provide a feeling of safety. However, it can also infringe on your privacy. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages ahead of time will prepare you for the realities of group travel.

Embrace similar interests.  Most group travels begin with a goal or interest that everyone shares.  Taking part in group tours or events with like-minded people can be exhilarating.  Sharing an experience with friends or family is much more enriching than telling them about it.

Know your travel goal.  Does the group travel involve a trip or a vacation?  For many, a trip usually has a purpose, while a vacation is about the experience.  If you consider the group travels a trip, you most likely will have a plan in mind.  If the travel involves a vacation, usually it entails rest or relaxation. Knowing your expectations from the group travel experience allows for travel that won’t disappoint.

Have you been able to thrive in group travel experiences? How? I’d like to know.

Travel and the ex-pat experience.

Travel and the ex-pat experience.

I’ve lived as an ex-pat in London, Germany, and Singapore. The experience of living in different places temporarily taught me valuable lessons in how to make the travel experience a great one. Here are a few ways my ex-pat experience has enhanced my travel experiences.

Making connections

Living in a foreign place as an ex-pat forces you to connect with people you don’t know. When traveling, networking can be particularly useful in meeting and creating new relationships. The benefit of connecting with people when vacationing is that you may get to explore places your new acquaintances genuinely enjoy. Friendly people are happy to give recommendations, and the sites recommended are great because your new friends only want to share the best of the local area with you.

Traveling with flexibility

In a previous blog, I discussed how travel and organization are essential to having a great travel experience. However, being flexible with your travel plans is also necessary for memorable experiences. I try to be as relaxed in my travel plans as I learned to be while living abroad. Whether long-term or a weekend, traveling with flexibility allows you to have unique and different experiences that are usually unplanned. With flexibility, your trip can be enjoyable and insightful.

Be a foreigner but travel locally

Living as an ex-pat taught me to travel like a foreigner yet be local at the same time. Connecting with people while on vacation is very similar to living in an ex-pat community. Often, you connect with people who are familiar to you, live locally, and want to give you an experience similar to that of a tourist. Usually, they will encourage seeing and doing things you had not thought of doing. Your vacation will include local but different travel experiences.

It’s not personal

While creating new relationships can be fulfilling, new connections can also be problematic. The ex-pat experience will teach you that not everyone you reach out to will respond or be available. Not everyone you meet or encounter will be cheerful and accommodating. Being open, understanding, and conscious of other people and their truths will allow for more pleasant travel experiences.

While living in Singapore, I met Terry James Johnson, an ex-pat performing under the stage name “the real TJ.”  He wrote an article that accurately discusses some of the ex-pat experiences.  You will find it a great read; check it out here.  Do you have any ex-pat experience? Has it enhanced your travel skills? I’d like to know.

Travel preparation

Travel preparation

You can never be too prepared for travel.  There are plenty of things to consider before you travel to make your travel experience a much more pleasant one.  I discussed a few ways of travel preparation in a prior blog post. Here are a few more ideas to think about before you travel.

Cell coverage

When traveling internationally, mobile phone charges can be an unexpected expense.  Remember to turn off cell service roaming before you leave the country to avoid roaming charges.  If you try to do this in an international destination, you may be charged for the time trying to complete the effort.  Try to arrange for a global cell service plan with your carrier before you leave the country.  You can often use a phone for dollars a day rather than dollars a call if you choose an international package for the duration of your time out of the country.

Notify credit card companies

Without prior approval, using your credit card in another country can be problematic. Your card can be flagged for fraud, and you may not be able to use it.  To prevent this, notify your credit card company before you travel to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of having your credit card declined.  Additionally, getting in touch with your credit card company from another country and verifying yourself will be a hassle you can avoid.

Currency exchange

Try to have some local currency before you enter the country.  Currency conversion fees can differ where you choose to convert your money.  Also, converting before you leave on your trip will give you an idea of the exchange rate, so you know before you go.  If you plan to take local transportation, having local currency can be helpful. Knowing and understanding foreign currency also prevents you from being taken advantage of as an unaware tourist.

ATM fees

Using an ATM in a different country can be expensive with built-in foreign conversion fees and daily changing exchange rates.  Research what bank or system your bank card or credit card is affiliated with before you go so you can avoid unnecessary expenses.

Carry small currency

Having local or foreign currency in small denominations can be a lifesaver when you arrive at an international destination.  Some businesses and people will prefer the US or other foreign currency rather due to instability with their currency.  It is also safer to have cash in small denominations than trying to get the correct change back in your own or foreign currency.

Have you had any unexpected hiccups with forgetting to plan for international travel? I’d like to know.

Pin It on Pinterest