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Travel for Language Immersion with Languesol Int’l.

Travel for Language Immersion with Languesol Int’l.

Meet Rhody-Ann Thorpe,  a young Jamaican entrepreneur and founder of a language immersion organization within the Caribbean called Languesol International. Blogging about what Rhody-Ann is doing through Languesol was close to my heart simply because language immersion was a big part of how i upped my travel game. My first big solo trip in 2007 was me actually moving to Europe on a language immersion programme; I lived and worked in Orleans, France and really took advantage of both my long stay visa and my proximity to other countries that i had been dying to visit. I ended up hopping around different cities in France, Germany, Greece and Italy, and this truly jump-started my love affair with travelling. Though travelling is of course a huge plus to what Languesol offers, learning to speak a language the way natives do is the invaluably beneficial purpose of the programme.

Learning a new language of another country while living there is nothing short of an amazing and unforgettable experience, and Languesol’s immersion programme is tailored to structuring that experience in a secure, accessible and affordable way. The programme allows Jamaicans to sign up as either a host to accommodate someone from a non-English speaking country, or to do reverse immersion where they themselves would be hosted in another country to learn its language. In hopes that my Jamaican and fellow Caribbean Roamans would find this programme as interesting as I did, I interviewed Rhody-Ann, who actually happens to be a past language assistant as I was in France.

 

Q & A with Rhody-Ann:

 

What motivated you to create Languesol?

I decided to create Languesol after having worked for years with overseas entities as a travel consultant. These entities were located mostly in the Caribbean and I organized language stays for their clients primarily in North America. Realizing the need for a similar programme within the Caribbean, I thought it important for persons residing therein to be able to easily traverse the region for language and cultural immersion purposes.

 

Who exactly is your target audience?

Broadly speaking, individuals and organisations interested in undertaking a language stay in Jamaica or in the Caribbean.

 

How many countries does Languesol presently have exchange arrangements with, and by extension how many languages does your immersion programme cater to?

For the time-being, Languesol has existing relations with partners in three main countries in the French and Spanish Speaking Caribbean.

 

How important do you think travel experience and language skills are to professional development?

Generally, in this globalized era it is absolutely more marketable for an individual to be able to boast mastery or to express a certain level of ease in a foreign language, as you never know the types of clients you’ll be in contact with. It is also favourably perceived if one is able to say that they have spent some time in a country where the target language is spoken since without a doubt immersion is key to mastering a foreign language.

 

Tell us a little about one of your current projects?

Languesol is currently working on a project with its partners in the French Caribbean which will see university students applying to come to Jamaica to undertake short internships with a linguistic component. Additionally, Jamaican students would similarly apply to go overseas to gain professional experience and to improve their knowledge of the French language.

 

 

What industries in Jamaica would stand to benefit from Languesol?

Although language travel consultancy perhaps automatically links Languesol to the Tourism industry, we are aiming to place interns with wide-ranging skill-sets across the spectrum of industries including trade and commerce, Food, Banking and Finance, Media, Telecommunications etc. We also consider non-profit organisations for inclusion.

 

What are the requirements for becoming a host in your immersion programme and what is expected of them?

Languesol manages a network of host families in Jamaica and it is FREE to join. Availability is essential to being a host family since depending on the type of programme, the family would not only be providing housing but also food, excursions, airport transfers. It is expected of the family to basically adopt the visitor as part of their family for the duration of their stay which can be just a weekend, a week or some weeks. Safety is also of paramount importance, so the host family must provide a safe place of abode with acceptable living conditions. The families need not speak a foreign language as the guest will be required to speak the language of the receiving country.

 

Likewise, for those hoping to be guests abroad, what requirements and expectations apply?

For practical reasons it is always useful if one has basic knowledge of the foreign language before travelling to the host country. However, depending on their language level, language lessons may be provided and if travelling as a group, suitable accommodation and excursions can be arranged.

 

What is your vision for Languesol and its impact on Jamaica 10 years from now?

I want Languesol to be the bridge that connects Jamaica to the rest of the Caribbean and the World. Jamaica is known around the world for our athletes and our music, but after living overseas I realize that so many people don’t know where to locate us on a world map. Furthermore, the idea of travelling to Jamaica for some is very far-fetched because it is perhaps more convenient to go to an eastern-Caribbean country, to North America or the UK. Likewise, Jamaicans might find it easier to go to Europe rather than to the French Caribbean. Therefore, Languesol through its projects and activities hopes to further promote Jamaica’s image as a language travel destination. Languesol also hopes that our collaborative work with our French counterparts will create stronger diplomatic ties and therefore result in less travel restrictions where visas are concerned.

 

 

How economically accessible is your immersion programme to young Jamaicans?

For persons interested in what we call “reverse immersion”, in which Jamaicans travel to a French/Spanish speaking country, our partners have very attractive packages for individuals and groups which were conceived bearing in mind the challenging economic times we live in. Travel in itself is costly but with adequate planning and with the help of companies interested in investing in their employees’ professional development as well as local organisations interested in funding our initiatives, it can create a myriad of opportunities for Jamaicans.

What is the application process for becoming a host, as well as for becoming an exchange guest?

Persons in Jamaica may apply to be host families by sending us an email at languesolinternational@gmail.com. A pre-screening form will be filled out online by the candidate, an interview will be conducted and a site-visit will be done of the homes of the candidates.

For persons interested in doing a reverse-immersion, the application process may vary based on the programme they’re applying for, as some may entail a basic language test. However individuals may feel free to contact us via our website or by email. All are invited to follow Languesol’s social media platforms (@languesolintl) as well as to subscribe via our website to our newsletter to keep abreast of upcoming programmes and events.

 

For more details on Rhody-Ann and her language immersion programme Languesol, visit http://www.languesolinternational.com.

Travel Anywhere With Just Your Carry-on.

Travel Anywhere With Just Your Carry-on.

Travel, especially for those adventurous enough to do it solo, is really much more enjoyable when you have ease of movement.  This is particularly important when you are not being collected at the airport or chauffeured about from place to place on your trip. Nothing annoys me more on my travels than having to navigate a country while lugging around a huge suitcase. Which is why, on my trips that don’t involve me moving somewhere, I travel carry-on style. I have been known to travel for up to two weeks, stopping in multiple countries or multiple cities, and have done so with nothing but my handbag and a small carry-on. I know it seems quite rough to pack two weeks’ worth of outfits into one small bag but trust me it is quite possible if you adopt a minimalist approach. It really made getting from hotels to the airport such a breeze while hopping trains, trams and buses, and I was able to spend so much less on flights since I could fly with low cost airlines and not have to pay for check-on luggage. As I am female, this post will explore tips that are more specific to ladies, but men can feel free to extrapolate from a lot of the points. So here are a few tips on how to make your trips lighter by packing just your carry-on bag.

 

You need fewer clothes than you think.

Packing a carry-on when you travel.
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  • Plan your outfits ahead of time–  This is probably one of the most important steps to making this plan work. Planning your outfits before heading off on your big trip will actually prevent over-packing, so you won’t end up bringing 5 tops and a ballgown you will never wear.

 

  • Try to pack clothes that are lightweight– This is easier to do if your destination has a tropical climate. You can actually pack enough tank tops, shorts, skirts and summer dresses to never repeat on the whole trip. However, if you are travelling  during winter, the key is to wear your heaviest items on the flight. On my flights in Europe I have been known to layer tops and sweaters under my coat as well as leggings under my jeans. Sure you look a little lumpy and round in-flight but, it’s the pictures of you at the destination that count ;-).

 

  • Focus on neutral colours– Packing blacks, greys, browns and mostly solid coloured items of clothing makes it so much easier to mix and match pieces. This allows you to pack less, especially as it concerns jeans which can be repeated without much notice and don’t get soiled easily.

 

  • Use accessories to switch up your look– When you pack with a minimalist approach, accessories will be your best friends. They really allow you to add some fashionable flair to your neutral pieces without taking up much space in your bag. Try to use belts, scarves, hats and jewelry to look fabulous and photo ready on your trip.

 

  • Bring multipurpose items– Packing less means taking items that serve multiple purposes, such as a dress that can also be layered and worn as a skirt. One example for me would be my sandals; I have a few stylish leather ones that I can wear with both casual and semi-formal outfits.

 

  • Bring a large tote/handbag/backpack– If you are looking to travel with just your carry-on its important that your personal bag be large enough to accommodate some of your load. This especially goes for items that you need to be easily accessible while en route, such as your travel documents, camera, money, phone and accessories. You can also slip a few of your must-carry items of clothing, such as underwear, into your personal bag to save on space in your carry on.

 

  • Pack neatly and strategically– If you throw all your clothes randomly into your carry-on it is quite likely that you will end up taking much less than you could have if you took the time to pack strategically. I find that clothes of flexible material such as cotton take up less space if you roll them tightly into the shape of a small log. As for bulkier items, like jeans, it really saves on space if you fold them once across and then lay them flush against the bottom of your bag. If you fold bulky items too many times or roll them, they gain a lot of height which will end up meaning less space for your other items. Also don’t be afraid to stuff some items into your shoes; this is really another great space saver.

 

Leave unnecessary items behind.

Leave these innecessary items when you travel.

  • Ditch the big makeup kit– Ladies, you really don’t need to bring your entire makeup arsenal when going on vacation. This is really a time for relaxing and being more casual than normal, so a simple makeup routine is all that is needed. Pack a small pouch with your favourite bb cream, 2 eyeliners, 2 lip stains, a small eye shadow palette with some neutral colours, makeup removal wipes and two makeup brushes (one large for buffing, one small for detailed application). You can definitely multipurpose some of your makeup items; for example, your brown eye shadow can double as a bronzer for your face, eyeliners can double as lip liners and makeup wipes can double as brush cleaners. This is of course for those who simply must have their makeup wherever they go. For those like myself who don’t regularly wear makeup, some lip gloss and moisturizer is all you need and you’re set.

 

  • Don’t pack items you can easily buy at a local drugstore– If you are traveling and your accommodations don’t provide items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries, consider buying these when you get to your destination. This will definitely lessen your load and leave more space for other things you might need. A quick stop at a local drugstore should allow you to purchase these items in small amounts, just enough for your trip.

 

  • Wear simple, cute and protective hairstyles- This really makes a world of difference since it means not having to bring a flat iron, curling iron or blow dryer etc. You really want to concentrate on all the fun there is to be had, so not having to worry about what to do with your hair while on vacation is a huge plus. I have locs so it’s like I already have a built in protective style that keeps really well. But for those who don’t have locs, I suggest braids, stylish cornrows or your favourite sew in. If those aren’t your style then a high ponytail or high top bun are really cute hairstyles which are perfectly casual and resort chic.

 

  •  You only need two pairs of shoes- I can already hear you ladies screaming “hell no!”, but trust me when I say you really don’t need more than two pairs. Remember the aim is to travel as lightly as possible; this is vacation after all. I promise you no one will care that you repeated your shoes on your trip; let your clothes and accessories do the talking. The trick is to bring two pairs of shoes that can easily match the different outfits you’ve packed. Both pairs should be comfortable for walking but still cute enough to go with all your different looks.

 

  • Avoid clothes that wrinkle- It’s vacation, you and your clothes should both be relaxed. If it requires an iron, don’t pack it!

 

  • You don’t need your laptop- The aim is to disconnect. If it can’t be done from your phone, get it done before you leave. It’s relaxation time so leave all work behind.

 

Travel anywhere with just your carry-on.

 

10 Travel Apps You Will Love

10 Travel Apps You Will Love

Mobile technology has become increasingly relevant to the world of travel, with the use of apps playing a major part in how wanderlusters now plan their trips. I have compiled a list of 10 travel apps I find to have amazing utility for Roamans seeking convenience on a budget. And the best part is they are all free! Be sure to try these apps on your 2017 travels:

  1. Google Trips

I am in love with this travel app! This is an easy way to centralize your travel plans without having to clutter your bags with printed itineraries, brochures and maps. The app pulls flight and hotel reservation details from the user’s Gmail account and creates one composed itinerary. It also provides maps and advice on how to get around your destination, as well as extensive lists of things to do and places to eat, which are all rated from 1-5 stars with accompanying reviews. There are also ‘need to know’ tips and suggested day plans with pre-made itineraries for sightseeing. The best feature of this app by far is its offline capability. The app allows you to create a trip while online and download the details for the chosen destination. All the relevant information will then still be accessible to you in app while offline. This is an amazing plus for travellers since a constant source of Wi-Fi is so rare when we are out and about exploring. I strongly recommend this one!

 

  1. Couchsurfing

This app is for a community of travellers who, believe it or not, help each other out by offering their fellow Couchsurfers a place to stay… for free! Members of this community can search for hosts wherever they plan to travel and request to be accommodated if the host has an available couch or bed. Now, I know many people will be skeptical about this concept and of course it is not for everyone, but I have Couchsurfed in Germany, Greece and France and they were all positive experiences. The app allows you to check reviews of people who have hosted others and been hosted, so you can get a better idea of what to expect of the person, and it is a little more reassuring when you see that they have been recommended by other Couchsurfers. Couchsurfing has also implemented an optional verification feature which makes it easier to vet people, ensuring they are who they say they are. This travel app comes in handy for saving money while travelling and creates an amazing opportunity for culture exchange since you would be experiencing life with the locals. It is however more suited to solo travellers and small groups of friends travelling together.

 

  1. Airbnb

Looking for unique places to stay without breaking the bank? Airbnb is definitely the app for the job. This travel app provides access to a cheaper alternative to hotels, allowing for short-term rental of a local’s home at a much lower cost. This offers a chance to experience the authentic culture of your destination, as hotels tend to keep you out of touch with how locals live. The app also provides useful features such as listing reviews, maps of the listing’s location in the area, and a profile for each listing which shows available amenities and other relevant details. If you are looking for that ‘home away from home’ vibe while you travel, definitely try Airbnb when booking your accommodations.

 

  1. Booking

Booking is another very useful travel app that consolidates travel reservations with useful travel tips. You can book hotels, motels and apartments, with access to travel guides and secret deals for thousands of locations all in the same app. I’ve gotten several awesome deals by using Booking and definitely recommend using it for your next trip.

 

  1. Maps Me

Think Google Maps with more offline utility. I was over the moon when I discovered this app. The eternal struggle that is lack of Wi-Fi, which haunts all travellers, has been trumped by the awesomeness of this app. Users are able to download maps of entire countries while online, and then enjoy detailed, turn by turn navigation with time approximations for travel by foot, car and bicycle while offline. How awesome is that?!

 

  1. Google Translate

Not everyone can be a polyglot, so that’s where Google Translate comes in. This app allows for translation of words and phrases between 103 languages! You can also download language files while online for later offline translation (another app that soothes my ‘no Wi-Fi’ woes, yaaaay!). A special feature of the app also allows for visual translation through your phone’s camera. Just access the camera through the app, point to whatever written words you want translated and you’re all set. This will definitely be useful for my adventurous Roamans who love to go off the beaten path where you might not always have a concierge who speaks your language.

 

  1. Sky Scanner

This app curates a list of the best deals for flights, hotels and car rentals. It is especially great for finding cheap flights since it frequently updates itself to account for any changes in ticket prices. I particularly love the Price Alert feature on this app, which gives you the option of receiving notifications when prices change for particular routes you have searched for. Definitely give this app a try to receive up to date deals and save on your trips.

 

  1. XE Currency

A currency conversion app is an essential tool in every traveller’s arsenal. This app actually provides you with the most current exchange rates, as it monitors the market in real time and refreshes to update any changes in the rates every minute. It can also perform multiple conversions simultaneously and allows you to create rate alerts so the app can notify you of any changes in your preferred currency pairs. You can additionally store current exchange rates for any currency of your choice within the app to use for later offline calculations.

 

  1. Wi-Fi Map

So by now you would have picked up on a recurring struggle I face quite often while travelling, being unable to find Wi-Fi (the free kind that is). This app is a definite game changer. It comprises the largest Wi-Fi community in the world, providing access to over 100 million Wi-Fi hotspots in over 100 countries. I know you are probably waiting to hear the catch. No catch actually; the app is made possible because members of this Wi-Fi community share information on public hotspot locations as well as Wi-Fi passwords. Users are able to select listed networks in their area to view their map locations and passwords which are posted by contributors of the community. Of course, as this is a social community where members are helping each other out, ensure you do your part to add any Wi-Fi hotspots you have discovered and provide passwords where you can. As a special feature, you can download Wi-Fi listings for your chosen country while online, then access them while offline so you can always find a way to stay connected. Free Wi-Fi for everybody!

 

  1. Guides by Lonely Planet

This app is another all-in-one type, much like Google trips. Unlike Google trips however, it lacks individual reviews by those who have experienced the recommended activities and it does not allow for a centralized itinerary. Guides, however, provides detailed offline maps, a currency converter, travel tips for your destination and budget guides provided by Lonely Planet’s on-the-ground experts. This app is super budget friendly and even has a ‘Free Stuff’ category for some of its destinations. So if you are always looking for the most affordable way to experience different destinations, give this one a try.

Eco-tourism in Grand Bahama.

Eco-tourism in Grand Bahama.

Normally when I travel I end up in destinations tourists normally visit to see famous monuments, museums, art and buildings. Visiting Grand Bahama didn’t find me going through my usual travel itinerary, but instead allowed me to indulge in Eco-tourism where I was able to appreciate the natural environment and interact with the wild-life found on the island. I had the pleasure of experiencing two such attractions; the Garden of the Groves and West End Ecology Tours.

The Garden of the Groves:

As a certified wildlife habitat, the Garden of the Groves provides a wonderful experience for nature lovers. It features a scenic landscape which includes beautiful ponds, cascading waterfalls, an aquaponics garden, a labyrinth and of course the exotic wildlife that inhabit the garden. There are different varieties of birds to be seen, as well as turtles, butterflies, fish and plants. I found walking through this garden to be very serene and calming. This is definitely a place I would recommend for a day of relaxing with friends or kids. There is also a lovely café where guests can enjoy some local cuisine after their walk through the garden and a craft shop to buy souvenirs. Unfortunately, in October 2016, hurricane Matthew took a devastating toll on the Bahamas and this conservation site is still in recovery mode, but I was still able to appreciate its serene beauty.

Check out The Garden of the Groves’ website for more details: http://www.thegardenofthegroves.com/

Enjoying the view.
The labyrinth.
Pretty little ducks.

 

The Garden Cafe.

 

Cute little parrot that kept saying “Hiiiii” and “Crackers”, lol.

West End Ecology Tours:

This tour was an amazing Eco-tourism experience for me and was indeed the highlight my trip to Grand Bahama. The tour involves the guide, Keith Cooper, taking guests to an offshore cay called Sandy Cay where they are able to interact with sting rays in their natural habitat.

Check out West End Ecology Tours’ website for more information: http://www.westendecologytours.com/

It was definitely something intriguing for me so I gathered a group of friends to give it a try.

I had never had the experience of interacting with wildlife like this before, but I was so happy that I got the chance. Keith made us feel quite at ease from the very beginning. He was super friendly and kept us laughing for the entire tour. Our tour started in Old Bahama Bay which is on the west end of Grand Bahama. We began at about 6:30am, and though we were all still a little sleepy it was completely worth seeing the gorgeous sunrise over Sandy Cay as we journeyed by boat for our play date with the sting rays.

I have to admit, I freaked out a little bit in the beginning since I was not used to touching these alien looking creatures, but Keith did an amazing job of putting me at ease and eventually I was comfortable enough to feed and swim with the sting rays. I absolutely loved how educated Keith was about his craft and was very impressed to see the relationship he had developed with the sting rays. The tour also included us snorkeling over a boat wreck and I had never seen so many fish in my life all in one spot. It was indeed a beautiful wreck, if such a thing exists. Keith also treated us to refreshments; snacks and drinks along with fresh fruit salads. To top off the morning, Keith ended the tour by treating us to coffee to warm us up after all the swimming. Needless to say this was a fantastic experience for me, full of exotic creatures, beautiful cerulean waters and picturesque backdrops. If you’re ever in Grand Bahama you should definitely give this tour a try! I’m sure the photos and video below will say more than I ever could:

 

The sunrise heading to Sandy Cay. Breathtaking!

 

Enjoying Sandy Cay’s beauty.

 

Keith rallying up the sting rays.

 

Such majestic creatures.

 

Daring to touch.

 

Beach treasures!

 

A Travel Guide to Grand Bahama.

A Travel Guide to Grand Bahama.

Looking for a destination teeming with exciting parties and nights that never end? Well sorry, but heading to Grand Bahama is not that kind of trip. But if relaxing on beautiful quiet beaches, interacting with exotic wildlife and indulging in delicious food is what stokes your travel fire, then this little out-island paradise may be just what you’re looking for.
Grand Bahama is the northernmost of all the islands of the Bahamas and is the 4th largest in the archipelago. Although it is not the most energetic of all the Bahamian islands, it does offer the typical tropical charm of the other islands and is only a 3 hour boat ride or a 40 minute flight from Florida. Having been here for an extended period of time I will admit that the island does not offer the daily upbeat rhythm one might find in other more lively Caribbean cities; however I believe it is a good option for a quick trip to get away from it all. The island attracts a fair amount of tourists, most of who arrive via cruise ship, but does offer a more intimate alternative to Nassau since it is less crowded. So if you plan to give Grand Bahama a try on your next visit to the Bahamas here are a few tips to consider.

 

Things to do:

Port Lucaya Marketplace– This marketplace is one of the biggest tourist hotspots in Grand Bahama. It offers a central place where visitors can enjoy duty free shopping as well as restaurants of varied cuisines including Bahamian, Japanese, Latin fusion, Greek and more. It also features colourful and quaint craft shops where tourists can stock up on Bahamian souvenirs. The Port Lucaya Marketplace also offers a little bit of nightlife as the bars and restaurants attract a mix of tourists and the locals who come out to listen to local bands play music, on occasion, or to enjoy karaoke and tapas.

Port Lucaya Marketplace entrance.

 

The picturesque boat dock inside the marketplace.

 

Craft shops to stock up on souvenirs.

 

The Beaches– The best part of getting away from it all is being able to relax on a quiet beach. That is definitely one of the charms of Grand Bahama. I have never seen what one would call a crowded beach since I’ve been here and if you’re lucky you may just have an entire stretch of white sand beach all to yourself. The best part is the beaches are free! Beaches to try include Paradise Cove Beach, Taino Beach, Barbary Beach, Fortune Beach and Lucayan Beach among others. Some of these beaches provide opportunities for water sports or boat rides.

Lucayan Beach is one of the many beaches which offer water sports. Jet Skis anyone?

 

Fortune Beach.

 

Gorgeous pathway into Fortune Beach. Had to take this shot!

 

Nature Tours– Another highlight of Grand Bahama are the wonderful experiences it offers through Eco-tourism. There are many nature tour companies that will offer activities such as kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, bird watching and excursions via bike or jeep.

Snorkeling with the sting rays out by Sandy Cay.

 

Boat dock out by Old Bahama Bay. Let’s set sail!

 

Money:

The Bahamas uses Bahamian Dollars (BSD), however it is the equivalent of the United States Dollar (USD) so US dollars are accepted everywhere. When making any purchases tourists can ask to have their change given in US dollars as most businesses are happy to oblige if they have it available.

 

Getting around:

Unfortunately Grand Bahama does not have the most reliable public transportation, and almost everyone on the island gets around via personal vehicle. If you are visiting as a tourist, there are jeep and car rental companies to provide you with transportation if you want to discover the island on your own.

 

Where to stay:

There are a few hotel choices on the island including Paradise Cove Beach Resort, Pelican Bay Hotel and The Grand Lucayan. It is worth mentioning however that the Grand Lucayan is conveniently positioned as it is just by Lucayan Beach and directly across from the Port Lucaya Marketplace.

 

Food:

If you are not familiar with Bahamian cuisine then I should let you know that the one thing you must try while in the Bahamas is conch. Bahamian cuisine features conch in so many forms; cracked conch, steamed conch, conch fritters, conch salad and the list goes on. I also highly recommend their fried fish as well as their crab rice. Some good spots to try local food include Pepperpot, Sire’s, Silk Café, and Smith’s Point Fish Fry.

Delicious Bahamian conch fritters!

 

Climate:

The weather in Grand Bahama is mostly warm, however it does get quite chilly around the winter months. I was quite surprised when I experienced temperatures as low as 12 degrees Celsius.

12 Ways to stress less during travel.

12 Ways to stress less during travel.

Traveling is not without its hiccups, but many of them are quite avoidable. Here are a few tips to consider when roaming:

 

  1. Be informed on all requirements for travel– Think a visa is all the documentation you might need to consider for your trip? There are actually several other potential requirements for travel that may slip your attention. These can range from mandatory vaccines with accompanying documents to minimum cash requirements for entry to particular countries. Some countries, like Cuba, even require you to have some form of travel insurance to be allowed entry. So to avoid anything killing your travel buzz upon arrival at your destination, ensure you are fully prepared for all requirements that their immigration might have. This can be done by simply visiting the immigration website of your particular destination or paying a visit to their local embassy or consulate to get all the necessary details.

 

  1. Don’t over pack– Packing your fabulously green-eye worthy 6 inch heels for your upcoming trip to see Machu Picchu just in case you need it may turn out to be a bit of an overkill. It is essential in travel to pack only what you know you will need, especially if you are going somewhere that you will have to figure out how to get around on your own. A good tip is to plan your outfits ahead of time for the days you will be traveling so you avoid packing “options” that create unnecessary weight for you to lug around in transit. It really worsens your jet lag if you are also sore the following day from pulling heavy suitcases and hand luggage through train/bus stations and large airports. Ease of movement is a virtue during travel.

 

  1. Keep all documents in a central location– Another issue that can really cause unnecessary stress during travel is not being able to conveniently locate particular necessary documents. It makes things much simpler to have a single folder or envelope where all your travel paperwork is kept. This helps for easier organization during travel and removes unnecessary worry in locating documents. It also lessens the likelihood of losing any important papers during the journey.

 

  1. Bring a meal for the journey– A hungry Roaman is an angry Roaman and unfortunately not all flights offer meal service, so bringing a meal for the trip is a good solution to have you happy and energized upon arrival to your destination. It’s no secret either that airports can be unbelievably expensive, so bringing your own food can help to avoid any unnecessary spending. This is a good way to stretch your travel budget and you will end up having more money for activities or even buying souvenirs on your travels. Ensure of course that your meal is not excessively liquid, such as soups or chowders, as airport security is unlikely to allow you to take it with you on the flight.

 

  1. Dress for the occasion– I know, I know, looking fabulous during your trip is part of the fun, especially for my Jamaican people; but the way you dress can really complicate the experience of traveling. It is best to avoid excessive jewellery, belts or complicated shoes (e.g. strappy gladiators) when going through airports. With airport security being the way it is today, these items are more of a hindrance than an accessory during travel since you will end up having to remove them anyway. Try to dress comfortably with shoes that are easily removed and replaced. This makes security check go quicker and it is far less of a hassle when you have to put yourself back together once you are cleared. The same principle applies to sightseeing; doing a 3 hour tour of Berlin in high heels, for example, is certain to put a damper on the experience.

 

  1. Take advantage of long layovers– One of the pitfalls of traveling, especially as it concerns cheap travel deals, is the lengthy wait during some connecting flights. If possible, turn this potentially boring and tedious wait into a plus for your travels by checking for any interesting places to visit during the layover that are close to the airport. This is a way to really maximize your travel experience and you actually get more bang for your buck by including layover cities into your sightseeing schedule.

 

  1. Keep yourself entertained– Traveling is meant to be fun and exciting so try to keep this vibe going as best as possible throughout the journey. To avoid boredom on long flights, plan ahead by creating a playlist of your favourite songs to listen to on the flight, or compile a few movies you’d like to watch (planes never play anything I really want to see). Also, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with your neighbour on the plane; I’ve had many fun experiences connecting with people on long flights and on overnighters at the airport. This will definitely make your overall experience during the trip more positive and allow you to arrive at your destination in that happy vacation mood.

 

  1. Do as the Roamans do– It can be a little daunting traveling to a country where no one speaks your language or where their customs are dramatically different from your own. Try doing some prior research on your destination and get to know the nuances of that particular culture (this is especially good for avoiding potentially awkward situations and offensive acts). It is also very helpful to bring with you a dictionary or travel book specific to your destination to avoid any hiccups that a language barrier might cause. An awesome alternative to books is to download a free translation app (e.g. Google Translate) that can readily provide you with useful translated phrases as you need them.

 

  1. Start the visit by relaxing– After arriving, try to make your first activity the most relaxing one of the trip. Overexerting yourself after hours in transit, pulling luggage and getting yourself settled at your hotel/hostel will really take its toll and your body will definitely pay for it the following day. A great start to your trip would be to schedule a relaxing activity such as lounging somewhere serene, whether a park, poolside, beach or garden. Even sitting down to a sumptuous meal followed by a long nap is a good way to re-energize yourself for all the sightseeing and various activities to come. Relaxing first will also allow your body to recover much quicker from any jet lag you may be experiencing after arrival.

 

  1. Stay oriented– So you turn up to your destination and realize you have no clue what is important to see or how to even get around. A quick visit to the local tourist office or the information desk at the airport of your destination is a good solution to this problem. These are good options for locating anything from maps of the town to bus or tram schedules, so this is a nice first stop upon arrival. Free brochures of your destination are also often provided at these offices and they make nice keep sakes from your trip.

 

  1. Avoid overspending– Nothing kills your buzz faster, after returning home, than looking at your bank balance and experiencing instant depression because you realize you’ve overspent; but there are ways to really stretch how far your money goes while traveling. Two things that really worked for me were touring pedestrian style and using local supermarkets to stretch my food budget. I know walking is never a first choice for many, but it really is a wonderfully cheap way to explore your destination, especially if the town you’re visiting is pedestrian friendly. You also get to see so much more of the location while saving on fare for transportation (and burning calories to boot). Using supermarkets on my travels saves me from having to go to restaurants for all my daily meals. A good formula I’ve used is to book a hotel or hostel that includes at least a free breakfast, go to the supermarket to buy items to make a cheap lunch, and then visit a local eatery for dinner. This way you don’t blow through a lot of your money by going to restaurants for all meals, and supermarkets are a great option if you’re traveling in a group and want to dine picnic style with your friends.

 

  1. Try these souvenir ideas– Buying souvenirs can turn into quite the costly venture and can be especially problematic after you’ve just spent most of your money on different activities during your trip. Some fairly affordable options to take back for friends and family include the following:
  • Spices– This is an especially great idea for visits to places that specialize in particular spices such as countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia or the Caribbean. A good tip is to buy a fair amount of spices that you can then split up among your loved ones when you return home.
  • Candy/Snacks– Most countries have some form of candies or snacks that are typical to them and they make excellent low cost souvenirs to take home. For example gizzadas, grater cakes and coconut/peanut drops are wonderful sweet snacks to bring back from your visit to Jamaica. Chocolate is a good idea if you’re in Switzerland and my Mexican friend Nancy introduced me to cajeta, which is a yummy caramel candy typical to Mexico.
  • Coins– Why not put your change to good use? It’s very rare that you get to spend every last cent of your foreign currency on your travels, so using your left over coins as souvenirs is a convenient way to share memorabilia from your trip with your friends and family.
  • Keychains– These are another inexpensive option for souvenirs to take home. I’ve gotten Eiffel Tower keychains in Paris for as low as 2.50 euro for 10, so give these a try.