In 2015 I became a bit of a professional vacationer :-) By no means did I become a travel agent of any kind, but I will say I may have picked up a habit that consists of daily flight deal checks and 3 times on Tuesday nights. I can literally feel an adrenaline rush when my browser pushes to one of my favorite Travel search sites. And I probably pee my pants a little when I find a flight for half the cost of what I'm wiling to pay. In 2015 I made out like a bandit, vacationing in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New Orleans, Catalina Island, Los Angeles, Punta Cana, Toronto, Miami, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Often, I’ve been asked "how do I do it"? The honest answer is—that’s a loaded question. I mean-- contrary to many blogs I've read recently, Traveling is NOT cheap, but in the same breath I can say it's not as costly as many people think, either. I like to think of my travels like a new pair of Jordan's, or the latest (insert your favorite designer) purse of the season, or the latest Apple product, or whatever other expense someone may incorporate into their monthly/ quarterly/ annual budget. Also, much like any other hobby, I have to practice. Ever trip I take I learn a little more about my personal best practices for travel. Simple things like, the time I arrive at an airport will vary depending on whether or not I have to check a bag. At the end of the day It's a lifestyle decision and I'm happy to indulge myself from time to time (to time, to time 0_o).
Below, I’ve gone ahead and posted some of #mylifeofkai travel best practices:
Do Your Research
Research flight costs, hotel stays, food costs, ground transportation and anything else you may spend money on for your next trip. You always have options, and you just need to know what they are. Consider these questions before you book your next trip: What is driving this trip: cost or time? Once you get to your destination, how are you getting around? What's better for cost efficiency: home share or hotels? Is it better to do take out or to buy groceries? The answers will vary depending on your destination and timing. Once you feel you've gathered enough information to help you sleep at night, make a decision and put it into action.
Set a Budget
If you're like me and you don’t have the fortune enough to be Jay- Z or Jermaine Dupree and money is in fact "A Thing". You may want to set a budget for yourself. It doesn't have to be anything too serious with a lined item excel sheet to match, but a mental note will do. Know how much you want to spend to take your trip; how much you want to spend while you're on your trip (please include food, excursions, souvenirs and casino trips) and how much money you'd like to have in you're pocket when you return from your trip.
Travel With The Right Team
In my opinion this may be the most important tip. You're vacation is important, so you and your travel partners should honor the trip as such. You know your personality and you should know the personalities of your travel mates. If you're a preferred loner, make sure you travel with people that are ok with you taking some time to yourself. If you're not a planner and you prefer to go with the flow, empower your more planner forward team members to take charge. More importantly, if you're a picky eater, be sure to have an idea in advance of where or what you want to eat.
If you don’t have the opportunity to vet all or any of your trip mates in advance, be prepared to have preliminary discussions about your expectations and theirs. Going into a trip with a common understanding of someone’s temperament can save the hell out of a trip! Who has time to worry about misunderstandings when you have an hour to get to your dinner reservation???
Keep a Tool Box
You should always have an arsenal of equipment when you travel, even beyond bug spray and a first aid kit. You never know what you'll need and when you'll need it so here are a few apps I have on deck for my travels:
Uber- most large cities around the world have an uber presence. You can confirm this prior to your arrival. This comes in handy when there is a language barrier, a safety concern or you just want to guarantee yourself a ride.
Google Translate- Sometimes its helpful to communicate in the language of your host country. If for nothing else it's just damn polite!
Currency XE- if your destination doesn't use USD's you may want to keep yourself in the loop on the exchange rate.
TripAdvisor- Use this for general recommendations on what to do, where to stay, what to eat, etc... Also--do yourself a favor and use the download a city feature in this app if you're not familiar with the area. That way if you don't have internet access you can still have some access to information.
Google Maps—I mean sometimes you just need to know which way to go!
Learn How to Pack
In general, I pack everything into a (very) small hard top suitcase and a backpack. Both very capable of being carried on the plane. And in those bags I have a couple pairs of shoes, additional purses, and outfits for every day of my stay, hygiene products and anything else I need. This will help you save money on baggage-check fees, and avoid losing your luggage during your flight. Youtube is a good place to get tips on packing, efficiently.
Be Sweet But Be Smart
Be very clear— when you travel anywhere, you are at the mercy of the local people of that area. If you're rude to them, they can probably one up you. So try to be kind, courteous and patient. At the same time don’t be dumb! Your situational awareness should be on FLEEK! Pay attention to your belongings, and the people around you. Memorize key landmarks in your area of stay and be reasonable with your reckless fun. Like my mother always told me-- people steal and they steal people too! So as much excitement you have to travel to your Destination, you should have as much excitement to get back home in one piece. Package yourself accordingly, please!