I don't know about you but lately my timeline has been flooded with images of Parisian promenades, Southeast Asian rice fields, and clear blue Caribbean seas.
This generation is definitely on a travel wave and everybody wants to take a ride, including me.
Here's the issue: my pockets are tight. When you hear the words "international travel," your first thought is probably dollar signs on dollar signs. Traveling abroad can evoke a certain level of luxury in which your wallet is not familiar.
While I've traveled frequently in the past, the last couple of years have been slow. My biggest priority has been just paying my ridiculous NYC rent on time. But Thailand was heavy on my mind and I was NOT going to let my pitiful bank account stop me.
Where there is a will, there is a financially feasible way.
With any trip, the biggest expenses are transportation, lodging, and leisure, and there are ways to maneuver through these potential pitfalls to have the international trip of your dreams. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide of how to budget for any international trip.
Getting There and Back
There's a website called Rome2Rio that gives you the full play by play on the cost of going from point A to B by plane, trains, and other automobiles. It's a great starting point. Once you've narrowed down your cheapest options, you can buy your tickets right from the site.
If you're not ready to buy just yet, download Hopper on your phone. It sends you periodic notifications on the best time to buy your ticket for the cheapest fare.
Flexible on time and place? You can look up cheap airfare on Skyscanner without indicating specifics. This site is perfect for those who just need to travel and don't care when or where. I relied heavily on Skyscanner to book my round trip ticket to Bangkok for only $600.
Okay, so you're in your travel destination. How do you get around without paying crazy expensive taxi fares? No matter what city I travel to, I make use of two very important modes of transportation: public transit, and my own two feet.
Let's talk about public transit. It's become increasingly popular to use those Hop On, Hop Off tourist vehicles and while I see the appeal, they are just totally unnecessary. Why spend $50 to sightsee when you can catch a local bus or subway for $2? It may seem scary but you will see more of the authentic, less touristy parts of town and you will become incredibly familiar with the city.
But the absolute BEST way to travel for cheap is to walk. Crazy idea, right? Most cities outside of the US, and especially in Europe, are very pedestrian friendly. You can spend a day strolling leisurely from one historical monument to the next. You never know what you might stumble upon. A gorgeous field of lavender, a quaint restaurant that sells regional cuisine, or a hip bar for when happy hour strikes. So if you're physically able and the weather permits, I highly recommend making it your main mode of transportation.
BONUS: I haven't done this, but bike renting is another great option.
Since I was traveling to several cities in a short amount of time, part of the stress was figuring out the shortest yet most cost efficient way to get there. At this stage in my life, I value price over convenience. While an hour plane ride sounds lovely, $200 does not.
My advice: take a sleeper train. I ended up finding a $20 ticket to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. Yes, it's a grueling 14 hours BUT I chose an overnight train. I left at 8pm and woke up the next morning to see the sunrise over the beautiful Thai countryside. Not a bad way to wake up.
I did however (luckily) find a $30 dollar flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi Beach through Air Asia. So cheap airfare is possible as well.
Hotels can be pricey and lack personality. For the most part, I love using AirBnB. Its popularity stems from not only the budget-friendly options but also it's "home away from home" level of comfort. But don't discount hotels, you could find some cost-efficient gems!
Since I traveled to Thailand solo, I really wanted to be around people so I opted for hostels throughout my trip. Honestly, I don't LOVE hostels. Sharing a room with 4+ strangers feels like summer camp. But it's crazy affordable. And for this particular trip, my hostels helped me find new buddies to explore the city with. And they instantly connect you with people from all over the world with really amazing stories. I also found really nice hostels with private bathrooms, high speed internet and WiFi, free breakfast, and a handful of other great accommodations.
This could arguably become the most expensive part of your trip but it's also the one where you have the most financial control. For vacation, I always take out cash and refrain from using my credit cards. This allows me to stay in my budget, as well as physically keep track of my spending.
Food and Drinks
If you follow my advice from housing, breakfast is already taken care of. But for lunch and dinner, you have to be careful not to overspend. Don't ball out for every meal. Be on the lookout for lunch or dinner specials and grab something light and inexpensive every now and then.
For drinks, utilize happy hours to the best of your ability but you also don't always have to buy from the bar. While I was in Krabi Beach, my new hostel friends and I grabbed a bottle of wine from a local store and just laid on the beach with our toes in the sand, watching the sunset over the sea. Way more memorable that way.
They say the best things in life are free. Depending on the city, this may be easier said than done. But before you travel, always look up a list of inexpensive or practically free activities. For large cities, Timeout is a great reference. For smaller cities, ask locals for advice. Locals know best after all.
Like I said, I went to Thailand by myself. So I wanted a more activity driven trip where I could meet other people as opposed to just lounging around alone. For this reason, TripAdvisor became my best friend. Based on the reviews of others, you can see whether an activity, excursion, or sight is worth your time and money. Thanks to TripAdvisor, I found the perfect company to book a day trip with rescued elephants and a high-speed boat tour around Phi Phi Islands.
In conclusion, traveling on a budget is more feasible than you realize. All it takes is serious financial control and proper planning. If the idea of planning your own travel totally overwhelms you and you don't mind dropping some coins, I highly recommend looking into group travel programs.
However, if you want an experience tailored to your personal interests and finances, it's best to DIY. Because of my extreme budgeting, I was able to live my best life and do this...
And do this.
And this, too.
- The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget ... ›
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- The Ultimate Money Hacking Guide For International Travel ›
Anndi Jinelle is a part-time creative and full-time corporate cog in the machine living in Brooklyn, NY. This 20-something spends most of her days going from coffee to wine, moving closer to her truth, and watching way more TV than is humanly possible. Catch her on Twitter @seranndipity.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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