Summer is upon so travelling schedules to local or foreighn places are in full force. Meet Nicole; a wanderluster at heart who had my my eyes glued in to my instagram feed each time she post pictures from her recent trip to Senegal. Funny story about us is the fact that Nicole and I haven’t formally met but we’ve been mutual friends through her little sister who has been a great friend of mine from College. Captivating and informative captions led me to her inbox and thankfully she agreed to answer these questions from our interview.
ES :-What made you decide to start travelling?
Nicole : I’ve always had a love for travel since I was small, something my mother and father instilled in me. My mom says I started traveling at 1 month old, going back and forth from California to Arizona. My dad instilled in me a love for road trips, he was (and is) notorious for those and sometimes a long drive is just what I need to clear my mind. Growing up we never had the opportunity to travel overseas but were able to travel domestically often. I’ve always loved the idea of exploring a new place and the people that live there. For a short while I wanted to be an anthropologist, so I love experiencing a travel destination as the locals do. As soon as I graduated from high school I was ready to move out of Arizona, so I moved back to the Bay Area, California for my 1st year of college and then made my way across the country living in Houston, TX and then on to Miami, FL and Winterhaven, FL for a short time. After graduating from university in Miami I moved to Montreal, Canada for about 8 months and then settled back in Phoenix, AZ where I now reside. I would be considered a “free-spirit” I guess, but I like to just consider myself a person gifted with Great Faith, lol. Currently I am a divorced, single mom of a soon-to-be tween and have been since my daughter was small. I want that to be known because that has not stopped me from pursuing my dream of travelling, learning, and exploring. I’ve been able to pass on this love of travel to my daughter. I want my daughter to know that this world is hers, literally, to share her gifts with. I hope my example instills in her a knowing that she can overcome any of life’s tests through faith in Christ and still come out smiling and victorious enjoying every part of life. Also I want to share with others the power in never settling for labels or boxes people or society try to put you in. You CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
ES :In your travelling journey, what countries have you visited so far?
ES: I love travelling but I’ll admit that the plane ticket makes me want to reconsider. Do you have any tips that you would like to share with us on saving to travel? What would you suggest?
Nicole When I first made the intention to make travel my lifestyle I asked myself what do I need to do to make this a reality? First things first I outlined a vision for my life and literally saw myself traveling. Faith without works is dead, so I knew I needed to be able to be financially independent at some measure so in 2015 (within three years of moving back to Arizona) I purchased real estate that would pay me, a multi-family home. I also educated myself on credit and ways to make it work for me. For example, never get a credit card that doesn’t pay you, whether that be rewards in travel miles or credit, get a card that pays you back to do the things you enjoy doing, whatever that may be. I’ve funded some legs of my trips on airfare mileage that I’ve accrued. Saving is definitely important as well, it could be as little as $50 a month to start, “don’t despise small beginnings…” Do not think that you can’t do much with $500 saved in 10 months. You most certainly can! I’ll explain a little further below.
However you ultimately choose to fund your travel whether it be through saving or racking up air miles BE FLEXIBLE in every way. Often times the plane ticket is the hardest part to get over, but there are many deals out there. I recommend exploring sites like The Flight Deal (www.theflightdeal.com). There you can catch glitchfeed and reduced fares, from the U.S. city you live in. For example, I went to Mexico City for $250 rt on a glitch feed deal, my total trip cost me $500, including room, food, a private tour to Teotihuacan, and transportation. See where that saved up $500 can get you? 😉 Residents of east coast cities tend to have even more deals overseas due to access to airlines like Norwegian Air, you can catch flight deals to Europe for less than $500, to the Caribbean for less $150 with them.
Nicole : Once you have your ticket, be flexible on where you will stay. I love AirBnB and have had great experiences with it. I’ve used it in literally all of the countries I’ve traveled to. In Paris, France, I stayed with a couple who rented out their bedroom and they slept in the living room. They were lovely people and my bestie and I very much enjoyed our time in their tiny Paris apartment. In Senegal, I’ve stayed in a few different AirBnBs, hotels, and villas. All for considerably less money than staying at a resort. BE FLEXIBLE. You never know what jewels you may find. Don’t get me wrong I love a 5-star hotels like the best of them and have been fortunate to experience that too when traveling, but I recommend not to get caught up in always having to travel like this. Again, I recommend AirBnB as well as Booking.com. Just be safe and listen to your gut when deciding on a place.
I am still very much a work in progress when it comes to financial goals but I would encourage every young woman (and man) to take the time to educate yourself, take that financial class, invest in the house over a car, a few years of sacrifice will be worth it in the end. Make your life work for you whatever season you may be in and BELIEVE you deserve to live your best life now and seek out ways to make it a reality.
ES : Do you have a top favorite memory from the place that you’ve been to?
Nicole : A top memory? This is probably the hardest question because I have so many fond memories. I would have to say Dakar being invited to the home of a local and meeting his family. His wife cooked for my daughter and I and their youngest 2 year old daughter became very attached to us, to the point when we were leaving she cried terribly. It was a special moment to make that connection and I would say those are some of my fondest memories in all of my traveling, connecting with local people.
ES : On days that you were doing sight seeing, did you do them on your own with your family or did you had a guide with you?
Nicole : I actually hate group tours lol, i would much rather explore on my own or with my family and friends. All of my trips been primarly self exploration. The tours that I have taken in Senega, Egypt and Mexico have been worked out to be private tours which are great, you get all of your questions answered and your guide becomes a frien in some cases, like Egypt ans Senegal become like family. Again be FLEXIBLE.
ES :How were you able to stay connected with your family once you got to a foreign soil?
Nicole :Sprint OneWorld is pretty awesome, whenever I travel to Mexico or Canada it’s just like being in the U.S. For the destinations that are further away I still have unlimited text and they have reduced price data plans available. Most countries I’ve visited have great WIFI availability. So What’s App comes in handy when you are connected to WIFI for free calls to the U.S.
ES : What are (or were) the essentials that you keep in your travelling bag?
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes: germs are real
- Camera: invest in a good one or rent one from a place like www.borrowlenses.com, you won’t regret the amazing pictures you’ll have from your trip.
- Copy of my passport: always good to have a copy with you, almost couldn’t get on a ferry to Goree Island in Senegal because I didn’t have my passport with me, ended up talking the guard into letting us slide through
- Universal travel adapter: whether in Africa, Europe, Asia, or Americas you can plug in
- Compression socks: an ankle saver from above, these will keep your legs and feet from swelling after a long-haul flight overseas
- Sim card capable cell phone: sometimes you need to be able to call local numbers, this will enable you to buy a local calling card as needed
- Cell phone charger pack: so you’ll never be without power
ES- What is your favorite travelling quote?
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Nicole : I tell anyone I talk to who wants to travel TO GO. Take the trip, “…just buy the ticket!”. I say that because you will be changed. You will see things differently, you will move through life differently when you return and that is worth every penny spent.
Thank you so much Nicole for introducting us into your travelling lifestyle through your words and your pictures. Are you travelling this summer? where are you heading lovelies? I hope you all have fun this summer whether you’re travelling overseas or you’re doing local tourism in your own backyard.