Before You Go

by A Young, Black Millennial

Traveling somewhere you've never been before can be a bit stressful. I tend to stand out wherever I go thanks to my height, crazy colored hair and melaninated skin. Yes, I just made up a word. After living in Europe for a semester abroad, visiting one of my best friends in Vietnam and currently writing to you from sunny Daytona beach, FL my experiences continuously teach me. Also, If you're wondering how I ended up in Daytona and not Miami for spring break that would make two of us, but I'm always down for an adventure. So I'll save you the trouble and let you in on a few travel tips.

Keep an open mind

Respect the culture fam. Remember, YOU took a trip to a new place, not the other way around.

Don't be that person who is afraid to try something new. You already took the first step by traveling to a new place. Keep the trend and try something you've never done before. Some of my best experiences while traveling were because of one simple thought process. Why not? When I was in Hanoi I tried fried chicken feet for the first time. Mind you my mother had a southern upbringing and chicken feet weren't out of her realm of cooking, but I just wasn't here for it. Then I fly halfway around the world and the dreaded chicken feet make a reappearance. My friend ordered for us from this little restaurant with sidewalk seating, and I cast aside my former disdain by digging in. It was a little hard to get past my mental space for like a second, but I ended up eating my fair share of them. Even if I never eat chicken feet again I'll never forget the time I tried them.

Do your research

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My friends jokingly call me a hyper planner, but it's true. I bought part of my birthday outfit in the summer and my birthday is in February. (If only I were this way with my school work) any way planning pays off big time when traveling. So if you're headed somewhere you've never been a quick google search goes a long way. But if you know someone whose been there/ is from there you're golden. Being a tourist is awesome, and you should relish that but feeling like a local is usually even better. Climate, whether it involves weather or politics, should be the first thing you check for. That might determine your whole trip. Then checking for all the food places, landmarks, and activities can help you make a loose itinerary. If you're as anal as me you'll have a full schedule for each day. It's up to you how strictly you follow it. I tend to play it by ear and go with the flow, which is especially helpful when traveling in groups.

Be as Savvy and Frugal as ya wanna be

I'm a college student living in New York City. Budgeting money is an art form, and I still fail miserably at times. Low key adulting is hard, but ya gotta get it how you can. One of the biggest factors for me when traveling is staying with someone I know. It makes for a whole new experience, and one I personally prefer. It also saves money! My trip to Vietnam hands down would not have been as lit if my best friend Mai wasn't there to help me. I stayed with her for about a week and a half before parting ways. If you've got family or friends where you're going it never hurts to ask about staying with them.

There are also these great resources like STAtravel and Airfordable that allow you to book your flight by paying a deposit and paying it off before your trip. A struggling college student's dream. Disclaimer: I haven't used Airfordable, but STAtravel gets a freshpresh stamp of approval. Besides airfare and stay, eating will be your next factor. If you're staying a while and your place has a kitchen USE IT. Airbnb usually comes clutch that way.

This week in Daytona my friends and I spent $120 on groceries which came out to $30 a person for a week's worth of yum. Limiting the amount of meals you eat out allows you to treat yourself to the most important meals. Like a fancy restaurant you've been dying to try. (This may or may not be a factor depending on where you go. Food in Vietnam was oh so cheap, like spend no more an $8 bucks a day for all three meals cheap. Mind you this is some of the best food I've eaten in my life.

As for activities I have one suggestion. GROUPON. (or something like it)

Know when to GET OUT

As a black youth in 2017 knowing when to dip is high on my priority list. Being a black girl with a travel bug isn't as carefree as it sounds. Everything might not be for you and knowing yourself is truly important. Like I previously said try something new, but let's be smart. Always trust your gut. Don't let a friend, local, or anyone for that matter talk you into doing something that truly doesn't sit well with you. I've lost count of how many strangers have asked to take a photo with me and we can't forget the others that I've caught taking pictures of me during my travels abroad. At this point it doesn't phase me. I mean, I still don't like when people stare, but there isn't much to be done about that. Probably never seen a black girl with [insert color of my hair at the time]. It's purple right now, in case you were wondering. Sometimes I decline photo requests but not often. I'm always cheesing somewhere.

Precious Watts