Tips & Tricks

5 Ways To Give Back While Traveling

As we approach the holidays, many people are in the spirit of giving, volunteering, and helping their community. As such, I figured it would be nice to outline some ways that you can give back while you travel. Whether you are interested in volunteering with an established organization or giving back through a local community effort, there is something on this list for you.

1. PACK EXTRA TOILETRIES

When I went to Cuba I was determined to give back, especially since I was going a month after Hurricane Irma hit. I didn’t know where to start, who to give, or what way I could give back, so I went to the dollar store and picked up some toothpaste, soap, deodorant, etc. and organized ziplock bags to hand out. Once I got there, I was able to give these ziplock bags out to those who needed it most. You can also do this with books, school supplies, and other toiletries and donate the supplies once you get there. This also leaves extra space in your luggage heading home, meaning you can fill it with souvenirs for friends, family, but most importantly… yourself.

2. VOLUNTEER

During my time in Trinidad, I was interested in volunteering, but I didn’t know where to start. I found a list of schools and religious organizations and went around asking if they had any opportunities to help out. The first school I asked needed help, so it didn’t take much searching. If you’re not into searching for an opportunity, there are many organizations you can travel with to go on a service trip. Jelani Women is a great example of that! They are an organization that takes Black women on vacations with a purpose. This experience of their own gives underserved teenage girls the chance to go on an international trip of their own.

3. WWOOF

WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences. As a volunteer, you live with a host family and help with their daily tasks and experience their life as a farmer. In exchange for your service, you stay with the host family for free. This is also a great way for someone looking to travel who doesn’t have much money or is on a tight budget. Experience the land, experience the life of a local, eat organically grown foods and become part of a sustainable, global community.

4. HIRE LOCALLY

If you’re on that, “listen sis, I’m just tryna go on my nice little Jamaican adventure, I’m not tryna do all that” vibe, I GET IT. It be like that sometimes. For you, my lovely philanthropist wanderer, I would suggesting participating in the local economy. How? Shop at local stores, hire local translators, local tour guides, and go on local excursions. Stay away from the big, corporate shows and figure out how you can support the land you flew hours to get to. Ask what the locals are getting into, what local bars they’re patrons of, and follow them. Trust me, you’ll enjoy yourself and you can feel good about your contribution.

5. FIGURE IT OUT

A lot of times, there is no set path to give back while traveling, so you have to create it on your own. The intention of serving others while abroad is great, but it is not enough. There needs to be more action. So, figure it out. The points above describe my experiences in Cuba and Trinidad. I had the intention, but no directed path, so I created my own path. This is my advice to you. Want to give back, but don’t know how…create a way. People are always looking for assistance, and your intention was the first step, now add just a little more effort and actually change lives. Google shit. Facebook shit. Figure shit out.

Have you ever volunteered while traveling? Where did you volunteer and what was your experience like? Ever wanted to volunteer but didn’t know where to start? Did this help at all? Let me know in the comments below

How I Save Money While Traveling Abroad

Looking to travel the world, see the sights, live your best life, but don’t want your bank account to look at you sideways? Say less. I love traveling, but I'm not trying to have Mr. Wells Fargo, Mrs. Bank of America, Miss Capital One, and Mr. PNC on my back. They’re so annoying! They stay looming in the background. I hear them wherever I go. “Did you really need that?” “That was HOW MUCH?” “Ok, but you haven’t deposited enough money to buy that yet.”

The worst is when they talk to each other. “Y’all see what she did there? HA!” “Who does she think she is?” “Alright, someone needs to stop her.”

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Basically, I’ve compiled a list of ways you can save on almost all aspects of your trip so that you don’t have to deal with those annoying banks. Incorporate some of these tips into your next trip and I promise Mr. Wells Fargo (my arch nemesis) will leave you alone.

HOUSING

Skip the hotel. You don’t have that kind of coin. Stay in a hostel, Airbnb, guesthouse, or go couchsurfing! Hostels are a great way to meet other travelers, they usually have great recommendations for places to check out in the area, and they are going to be your cheapest option. Downsides include sharing a room with about 6-12 other people, sleeping on a bunkbed, and possibly hearing your top-bunk neighbor have sex (true story). Most of you are familiar with Airbnb’s, and I love them if I’m staying somewhere for a while, but on a quick trip I find they can be isolating. Also, you never know what you’re going to get (check this out to see what I mean).

Guesthouses give you the chance to “live” with a local family (get that local experience) and they’re about as cheap as a hostel, but some guesthouses have rules that you must abide by (ex. no guests after 9pm; no loud noise after 10pm). Lastly, COUCHSURFING, my fave. If you don’t know what it is, click here. This is the cheapest option of all, because it’s usually free, but not all couches are created equally.

FOOD

My favorite pasttime! Let’s cut this short. DO NOT EAT AT TOURIST LOCATIONS. Stay far away from those traps. Eat at local restaurants, go further away from the city, try street carts (stop being bougie sis, it’s clean, and be adventurous for once). A nice trick I have when abroad is to look for the restaurants that are packed with locals. If the locals are eating there, then so am I. I love to google translate “where do you like to eat?” and ask locals. If you just ask for recommendations, they’ll give you places they think you’ll like, which will more than likely lead you back into touristy locations. Ask about their preferences and follow their lead!

TRANSPORTATION

Sure, Uber is nice (although it’s not available everywhere) and taxis can be convenient, but we’re not talking convenience, we’re talking KEEP MR. WELLS FARGO OFF YOUR LINE, so listen up. Take public transit! In Milan, the above-ground trains are free. FREE, BISH…FREE! Get on that tuk-tuk (unless they’re only where the tourists are), hop on that bus and carry your tail to the metro. You’ll save a fortune. Also, if you find yourself absolutely dying and needing to hail a taxi, please make sure you are far, and I mean far from the touristy locations. If you’re pressed to get the taxi at least save some coin and walk a minute or two up the block so the prices aren’t jacked up!


ADVENTURES

Alright, this is the most difficult to try to save money on. I always flick off Mr. Wells Fargo when it comes to activities, but I’ve found some things to do in almost every city that didn’t break the bank. Most museums have at least one free day, or are free everyday (shoutout Smithsonian); find that free day and put it on your list of things to do! Also, if there is a popping museum, make sure you get there well ahead of time and plan for crowds…you’re not the only one trying to get this steal!

I also love to explore cities by going on walking tours! Get that exercise in, feel that breeze, explore the streets. I’ve also joined a walking tour that I haven’t paid for by lollygagging in the back, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that. Honestly I totally recommend it, I learned so much about the town lol but I felt bad for jipping the nice tour guide. Lastly, if/when you go shopping then make sure you haggle! Nothing is as it is listed. I don’t care where you go. Make a deal. Find a deal. Secure the deal and the bag, sis. Secure the MF’n bag.


AIRLINES

Last on this list is how to save money with airlines. I want to start off by saying FLY BUDGET AIRLINES! I’m sick of y’all. You can’t be broke and bougie baby, pick one! I promise I wish I could be bougie too, but that’s not the case here. So, since we’ve all decided we’re flying budget airlines (shoutout WOW, RyanAir, Spirit * ooh that one hurt to give props to *) The key with these airlines is to pack light. If you do , there are rarely any fees attached, and you’ll be saving those coins you barely have (don’t mind me, I’m really dragging myself here). Also, when it comes to airlines, make sure that you’re flying to your destination during the offseason. You can’t expect to go to Carnival in Trinidad and find a $200 flight. It aint happening sis. Fly during the offseason and swerve on those price hikes!

I hope these helped y’all avoid Mr. Wells Fargo, Mrs. Bank of America, Miss Capital One, and Mr. PNC! You don’t need them on your back and I don’t want them on mine either. What tips do you have for saving money when you’re traveling? Let me know below! Hip me sis, HIP ME! I’m ready to save the coins!

Happy Wandering…